In-form Pat’s expecting tough test from Galway

LEADING the table on goal difference from Derry, St Patrick’s Athletic are entitled to feel confident of maintaining their own 100% start to the league when they host Galway United at Richmond Park tonight (kick off 7.45pm).

But manager Johnny McDonnell, conscious of the lessons of recent history, won’t be underestimating the threat of Tony Cousins’ side, who picked up their first point at Cobh Ramblers last week.

Said the Pats boss: “It’s early season and the league has yet to settle down so all teams are capable of getting results. Galway beat us at Richmond Park last season and did a bit of damage to our title ambitions. We know what they can do so we need to be well prepared.”

Pats, who go into the game on the back of a big 1-0 victory over Bohemians, have goalkeeper Barry Ryan and Dessie Byrne suspended but Stephen Brennan and Gary Dempsey return to the squad. Meanwhile, Joseph Ndo continues to make what the club describe as “steady progress” in his recovery from injury.

For Bray, Paddy Kavanagh returns to the squad having missed the defeat to UCD last week as he served a one-game ban following his sending off in Cork. However, new signings Kevin Doherty and Derek Foran will miss a third match in a row through injuries picked up pre-season, and former Rovers man Andy Myler has now been added to the injury list with a groin strain. However, two other ex-Hoops, Derek Pender and Ger Rowe, will be returning to their former home for the first time since they left in the summer for Bray.

Smarting from their defeat by Pats, Bohemians make the long trip to Sligo without club captain Kevin Hunt who broke a bone in his foot in training this week and will be out for up to two months. Bohs will also be missing Thomas Heary, Neale Fenn and Glenn Cronin while Killian Brennan is ruled out through suspension. But better news for Pat Fenlon is that striker Jason Byrne experienced no recurrence of his hamstring injury when he returned to action last week.

Disappointed by the loss to Pats, Fenlon is looking for a positive reaction against Sligo Rovers.

“It was a poor performance against Pats and we just did not get going,” he says. “We have to move on now and we can start by increasing our work rate in Sligo. There is quality throughout our squad but we need to increase the effort we are putting in. Sligo could be the dark horses this year and we will have to be on our guard.”

Sligo, who held Drogheda scoreless last week, report a clean bill of health with Steve Feeney available for selection after missing the first two games of the campaign, (kick off 8pm).

Champions Drogheda United, still looking for their first goal of the new league season, host First Division winners Cobh Ramblers at United Park (kick off 7.45pm) and will be boosted by the news that long-term injury casualties Shane Barrett and Declan O’Brien are back in full training, although according to manager Paul Doolin this game has probably come a week too early. Barrett has been out for a year with severe ligament damage while captain O’Brien has been sidelined since the Setanta Cup final last May. Defender Jason Gavin is also close to a return however Tony Grant is in contention with his side badly needing to kick start their bid to retain the title.

Cobh will be without defender Alan Carey (hamstring) but defiantly manager Stephen Henderson is relishing the battle of the domestic champions.

“It’s not daunting,” he says. “The reality is that we worked hard to come up last season and bad teams just don’t win leagues. Do I respect Drogheda? Yes. Do I fear them? No. We will be well rested and well prepared for this game and we aren’t going up there just to try to keep the score down.”

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