SOME NEW faces ought to be on show when eircom League leaders St Patrick’s Athletic travel to the RSC to play second from bottom Waterford United in the Premier Division tonight.
Pats have been busy in the transfer stakes this week, signing former Shelbourne defender Dave Rogers from Derry, Scottish midfielder Billy Gibson from Partick Thistle and former Irish U-21 international Michael Keane. And yesterday the club announced that striker Mark Rooney has left Richmond Park to join Shelbourne.
Gary O’ Neill, forced off early with an injury in the 2-1 win against Derry, is expected to miss tonight’s game for Pats.
Waterford too have been active in the market and this evening manager Gareth Cronin hopes to include Cathal Lordon, on loan from Cork City, and pending clearance from the Scottish FA, Willie John Kiely, who has returned home from Aberdeen.
Says Cronin: "It’s great to get a local boy back to the club and Willie John brings a great scoring record with him from Aberdeen. Cathal is a great addition to the midfield and I have no doubt that he can slot in alongside the existing players quickly."
Following Monday’s washout against Galway United, Drogheda United — two points behind Pats but now with a game in hand — face a trip to Belfield this evening amid encouraging news on the injury front, both long and short-term.
Defender Jason Gavin, back in non-contact training after surgery on a dislocated shoulder, has been given the all-clear to resume playing in mid-August — a much shorter time-frame than was originally anticipated — while skipper Declan O’Brien visits the surgeon next week for an update on his recovery from the knee ligament injury he sustained in the Setanta Cup final.
While Steven Gray is expected to miss the game against UCD, James Keddy and Eamon Zayed have recovered from knocks, and Simon Webb, who has missed the last few weeks, is fit to play again. Keeper Mikko Viluminen is still ruled out, and Ollie Cahill is expected to be missing for another week. Richie Baker is making great progress and should be in contention soon. Against the Students, captain Stuart Byrne may revert to right full and Sami Ristila is likely to partner Eamon Zayed up front.
Two points behind third-placed Bohemians — who play Bray on Monday — but with a game in hand, Shamrock Rovers face rock bottom Longford Town at Flancare Park with new signings Alan Reynolds (ex-Waterford) and David Tyrell (ex-Bray) added to their squad but with doubts about the fitness of leading scorer Tadhg Purcell who has a groin problem. Under the terms of his deal, former Longford man John Martin will not play.
Hoops boss Pat Scully is especially pleased to have landed Alan Reynolds from Waterford as he plots further woe for struggling Longford.
"Alan’s a very experienced player and he goes straight into the squad which is starting to look quite strong now. Longford have good players; the fact that Drogheda, Bohs and Pats — the three richest clubs in the league — are looking at some of them shows they have quality. But they are bottom and if we want to progress and challenge for the title we need to get three points from this game."
New Derry City boss John Robertson has made Hibernians’ Sammy Morrow his first signing and the striker will go straight into the side for the north-west derby against Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell.
Midfielder Ciaran Martyn, back in Derry after a loan spell at Norwegian side Fredrikstad, is also in the panel for Robertson’s first full game in charge of the Candystripes who are looking to end a run of six league games without a win. All this evening’s Premier Division games kick off at 7.45pm