Waterford good enough to bounce back, warns O’Brien

SECOND-PLACED Cork City travel to Waterford United tonight (7.30) to give the RSC its first taste of top-flight Munster derby action in years.

Around 500 City fans are expected to make the journey to give the match a competitive derby atmosphere while it will be a road well-travelled for City midfielder Colin T O’Brien.

O’Brien had a spell on loan at Waterford United in the 2001/2002 season and knows exactly what to expect from Jimmy McGeough’s side, who have seen their good start to life in the top flight eroded with two thumping defeats on their travels to St Patrick’s Athletic and Bohemians recently.

“There’s no doubt they can turn this round,” O’Brien said. “They’ve surprised a few people this year by getting up there in the early part of the season and now they’ve had a setback.

“But they’ll be thinking now what better way to bounce back than in a Munster derby. Form goes out the window when you’re playing a team close to you and when there’s local rivalry. “We’ve played Waterford there already this season in the Munster

Senior Cup and the League Cup and we know we can expect a side that’s not afraid to mix it, for sure, but that does like to try and play as well. They do have good players and you just can’t underestimate them.”

City will be without captain Greg O’Halloran for the rest of the season as he recovers from cruciate knee ligament surgery, but otherwise O’Brien said City have a fully fit squad.

Waterford manager McGeough could give a debut to Paul Rudden, a 22-year-old Scot signed last week from St Mirren, but looks set to be without centre-forward Kevin O’Brien who has a hamstring injury. Wilie Byrne (groin) and Alan Reilly (knee) are both doubtful.

UCD will be without the experienced Tony McDonnell for tonight’s top versus bottom clash with leaders Shelbourne at Tolka Park (7.45).

McDonnell suffered a recurrence of his hamstring strain against Derry last week, 70 minutes into his comeback following a six-week absence. But College will welcome back Mick O’Donnell and Niall Donnelly from suspension.

Shels boss Pat Fenlon has the same squad available this weekend as he did for last weekend’s derby draw at St Patrick’s Athletic.

After their Intertoto Cup excursions, Shamrock Rovers resume their league campaign with a home game against Longford Town at Richmond Park (7.45). After bowing out of Europe last Sunday at the hands of Czech side Slovan Liberec, the Hoops have three games in hand over the leaders, whom they trail by eight points.

League Cup finalists Longford Town, who climbed out of the relegation zone with a 4-0 home win over Derry City midweek, are just three points behind fourth-placed Rovers.

Drogheda United host St Pat’s at O2 Park (8.00) with Neil Tarrant the only doubt.

He faces a fitness test before kick-off. Pat’s will be without midfielder Paul Osam (knee), while goalkeeper Chris Adamson is out after getting 20 stitches in a clash of heads

during last week’s derby match with Shels. James Gallagher will deputise. Anthony Murphy (back) is doubtful.

In the First Division, Bray can leap from fourth to first if they beat Galway United at the Carlisle Grounds while Athlone Town meet Dundalk at St Mels Park (both 7.45).

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