Bohs must halt Shels to keep title hopes alive

BOHEMIANS manager Stephen Kenny is delighted to have a fully fit squad available for tonight’s make-or-break eircom League contest against runaway leaders Shelbourne at Tolka Park (7.45).

Bohs will fall 13 points behind the champions if they lose.

Bohs will play a second Dublin derby game on Monday when they face St. Pats and manager Kenny commented: “Two derby games in-a-row should be enough to get everyone going if we can win them and provide us with a platform to build on for the rest of the season.”

Shels’ manager Pat Fenlon is in a much more secure position in the table but not so favourably treated by injuries for he is likely to be without defenders Kevin Doherty and Tony McCarthy as well as midfielder Alan Cawley.

Fenlon refused to accept that a win would make their position impregnable as regards Bohs.

“We play Dublin City, Cork and Longford in our next three matches and our league is so small and competitive that we cannot expect to take full points from all matches. That does not happen” he said, “Of course it would be good to have 13 points on Bohs for we have been the top two in the League for the last three or four seasons but in this league you cannot take anything for granted.”

Elsewhere, the absence of their leading goalscorers suggests the meeting of Waterford United and Cork City will be even tighter than usual. Willie Bruton (Waterford), suffering from a torn muscle in his shoulder, and Kevin Doyle (Cork), with a damaged hamstring, will be sorely missed.

A win for either team will lift them above Shamrock Rovers to occupy the position of leading challengers to Shelbourne. Rovers are not in action until tomorrow when they play Longford Town at Flancare Park.

Waterford will have to face Cork without player/manager Alan Reynolds and centre-back David Breen, both of whom are suspended. But they have the memory of their 3-2 win over Cork at Turner's Cross in April to sustain them.

Reynolds took advantage of a free weekend last week to give his squad six days off training and stressed the importance of keeping the players ‘fresh’ from match to match.

Bruton’s absence is a loss to Waterford for he had shown a real spark at centre-forward after stepping up a division from Cobh Ramblers. Happily his injury has been diagnosed as a torn muscle rather than a dislocated shoulder but progress is slow.

Mark Clifford, Wayne Fitzgerald and Kevin O’Brien are in contention for a start and Waterford will look to Darryl Murphy to provide them with the penetration they will need up front if they are to score a repeat success over Cork.

Cork have injury problems as well, with Michael Nwankwo recovering from a groin strain and Greg O’Halloran from damaged ankle ligaments after their win over Longford Town last week. Neale Fenn was also on the treatment this week for a calf muscle injury.

Manager Pat Dolan is hopeful that Nwankwo and Cillian Lordan, who was kept out of the Longford match by a thigh injury, will be available. Lordan would slot comfortably into the place left vacant by O’Halloran while Fenn’s absence should afford Dolan the opportunity of pairing George O’Callaghan with John O’Flynn up front.

St. Pat’s new manager, John McDonnell, must plan for his debut game against Dublin City without the Cameroon international midfielder, Joseph N’do, who is suffering from a broken hand.

This is just the latest in a long list of injury problems to beset Pat’s but McDonnell is still upbeat. He spent the last two seasons as assistant to Fenlon at Shels and prior to that was manager of Dublin City.

“I spent nine happy years with Pat’s as a player and it was always my ambition to go back as manager,” he said. “People might say I’m mad to walk away from Shels but I may not get the chance to take the job I’ve always wanted again.”

N’do was on the substitutes’ bench when Ireland drew with Cameroon in the World Cup finals in Niigata in 2002. McDonnell will be hoping he will make a swift return to action.

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