Haylock a huge loss for Dundalk in Cup defence

GARY HAYLOCK will be a huge loss for Dundalk as they open their defence of the FAI Carlsberg Cup against Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park tonight (7.45).

Haylock, the two-goal hero of their FAI Cup final win at Oriel Park in May, returned to training on Monday after an knee operation but will not be fit to play. Dundalk expect him to make his return on August 15 in the UEFA Cup against Varteks of Croatia.

Since Dundalk hammered Bohemians on that famous day at Oriel, the side has suffered relegation to the first division. Then there is the presence of two of last season’s squad members in the Shamrock Rovers team.

Stephen McGuinness and James Keddy were influential for Dundalk in their successful Cup run. Keddy missed Shamrock’s League game against Longford Town at the weekend through injury and may not make this match.

Dundalk also lost David Crawley from their Cup-winning team and their form has been poor this season. They have a victory over local rivals Monaghan United, but lost last weekend to Home Farm.

“We have had one or two injuries, so we have not had any continuity in our team selections. It is just unfortunate the way the season has panned out so far, and it is disappointing to be facing into such a big game so early without such a good goalscorer as Gary Haylock,” manager Martin Murray said.

Shamrock Rovers manager Liam Buckley this week had to cope with the trauma of losing his father, who was also Liam and was buried yesterday. He was not able to guide Shamrocks when they lost to Longford Town last Monday but will be back on the sideline tonight.

Rovers secretary Joe Colwell commented: “In Liam’s absence, we were all over the place against Longford. They had done their homework and they played five in midfield and they succeeded in smothering us.”

Rovers will hope that Keddy will make it, for with Billy Woods transferred to Cork City, they will need him for penetration on the left flank. Tony Grant will carry the main responsibility to convert good football.

Rovers have an experienced and balanced squad, with influential players like Pat Scully, Jason Colwell, Derek Tracey, Marc Kenny, and the Grants, Stephen and Tony.

Limerick will look to their recent win over Waterford United in the First Division Cup for confidence when they meet at Jackman Park in the Cup tonight (6.30).

Manager Noel O’Connor’s youthful Limerick have done well this season since losing to Kildare in their first match, but injury problems will make difficult team selection.

Michael Kerley has a hamstring problem, Ciaran Foley is suffering from a groin strain and Barry Ryan, returning from an ankle injury, is doubtful.

Limerick are struggling to find a recognised strike force, as Stephen O’Flynn, the former Wimbledon centre-forward they signed from Cork City, has a calf injury. They will need to convert their scoring chances if they are to advance over opponents who always challenge them.

“This will be as tight as our games against Waterford always are. It will come down to whichever team gets the breaks on the night, but I have to say it is too early to be playing such an important match,” O’Connor said.

Waterford United are fretting over the fitness of midfielder Richie Lopez, who played in his native Waterford with Bohemians. However, centre-back David Breen returns from suspension.

Waterford will be encouraged by the presence of new signing Wayne Russell in goal, and with players of proven ability in Kelvin Flanagan in midfield and John Frost at left-back, they will provide Limerick with a stern test. But the odds are in Limerick’s favour.

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