Fahey misses out as Drogs look to stay in pole position

LEADERS Drogheda United travel to take on St Patrick's Athletic tonight, but there will be no return to Richmond Park for former Pat's man Keith Fahey, who is still a week away from full fitness.

"It's unfortunate for him but there's a long season to go and we'll meet Pat's again at some stage," says manager Paul Doolin. Stephen Gray is doubtful for Drogheda after picking up a knock last Friday but Damien Lynch does return from suspension.

Drogheda go into the game boosted by the news that goal-scoring midfielder Paul Keegan has been named the eircom/Soccer Writers player of the month for March. With ten points from four games, three goals scored and none conceded, the FAI Cup holders have got their league campaign off to a fine start.

Pat's are also unbeaten and salvaged a draw in Sligo last week in injury time. And manager John McDonnell has called on Pat's supporters to continue to back the team: "When we were down in Sligo our fans stayed with us until the final whistle and we needed that," he said. "Now for the game against Drogheda, we need our supporters, more than ever, to be our twelfth man."

Two points behind Drogheda, reigning champions Cork City are at home to Longford Town. Alan Bennett (hamstring) and George O'Callaghan (ankle) face late fitness tests, with Damien Richardson fully aware that coming up fast is the Setanta Cup semi-final against Shelbourne on Monday.

Says the City boss: "George has played through the injury since he picked it up in Drogheda a couple of weeks ago and while it's not going to get any worse, it hasn't been given a chance to heal either. This is a very big weekend for us and while the more important game is Longford because it's the next one, I'm mindful that Roy O'Donovan is suspended for the Shels match so I have to bring that into the equation."

Longford boss Alan Mathews goes in search of a first league win after three draws. Robbie Martin, Dean Fitzgerald and Danny O'Connor all picked up knocks in Longford's 4-0 League Cup win over the Mayo League midweek, while Kevin Doherty and Stephen Paisley are struggling with chest infections; Davy Byrne and Dave Mooney are definitely out with long-term injuries.

"We have a few bodies down," said Mathews. "Going down to Cork at any stage you want to have your best 11. But there's no point in whinging about it. On the other hand, it's a good place to go and play, it's one of the better grounds, the crowd gets behind the teams and that can raise the performance level."

At the other end of the table, Waterford United will have their work cut out getting off the bottom when they play host to Shelbourne, although the visitors will be without the suspended Owen Heary and Dave Rogers, while Ollie Cahill is doubtful.

In tonight's other Premier Division games, Derry City are at home to Bohemians and Dublin City face Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park. UCD meet Bray Wanderers tomorrow at Belfield (5.15pm.)

Tonight (7.45 unless stated): Premier Division: Cork City v Longford Town, Turner's Cross; Derry City v Bohemians, Brandywell; Dublin City v Sligo Rovers, Dalymount Park; St. Pat's v Drogheda United, Richmond Park; Waterford United v Shelbourne, R.S.C.

First Division: Limerick v Cobh Ramblers, Hogan Park, 7.30 pm; Shamrock Rovers v Kilkenny City, Tolka Park, 8pm.

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