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O’Callaghan and O’Brien doubtful for Setanta clash

By Liam Mackey
CORK CITY could make a couple of changes from the side which drew in Portadown when they take on Drogheda United in the Setanta Cup at Turner’s Cross tonight (8pm).

George O’Callaghan, who was last night named the eircom League Player Of The Year, has a slight thigh strain, and Colin O’Brien has a tender groin.

Manager Damien Richardson will give both players a final chance to prove their fitness today.

"I anticipate that they will both be okay but, equally, at this early stage of the season we won’t risk making injuries any worse," said Richardson.

There could also be appearances for Billy Woods and Denis Behan, neither of whom came off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Portadown.

Goalkeeper Michael Devine, who passed a late fitness test in Shamrock Park but then relinquished kick-out duties as a precaution, is also cleared to play.

Roy O’Donovan will definitely start, following an agreement made by Richardson and Irish U-21 manager Don Givens. O’Donovan will now link up with the international squad after tonight’s game, in preparation for tomorrow night’s friendly against Sweden at United Park.

However, Drogheda boss Paul Doolin has opted to take a different approach with Mark Leech, who has received his first call-up to the U-21s.

Doolin has decided that the scorer of Drogheda’s winning goal in their Setanta Cup opener against Dungannon Swifts will not travel to Cork.

"He’s a young lad and the call-up is a big boost for him, so I’m going to allow him to concentrate on being with the U-21s this week," said Doolin.

"Although it would have been different if I’d felt we were short of options."

James Keddy is out for Drogheda but although Glen Fitzpatrick is fit, he is unlikely to start. However, both Paul Keegan and ex-Longford man Shane Barrett are available for the Boynesiders.

Both managers, who last met when Drogheda beat Cork to lift the FAI Cup, are looking forward to tonight’s encounter.

"It’s an important game in the tournament and it’s our first home game since the league triumph of last season, so we want to show our supporters that it’s business as usual," says Richardson.

Doolin, restricted to a watching brief last year, is delighted that Drogheda are involved in the cross-border tournament.

"It’s an exceptional competition and very much the way forward for football here," he says. "I watched the games last year with envy and it’s important for a club like ours to be involved in something as progressive as this."

Drogheda go into tonight’s game at the top of Group One having beaten Dungannon Swifts 1-0 at United Park last week.

The Swifts now turn their attention to Portadown who visit Stangmore Park tonight for a 7.45pm kick-off.