League-leaders Pats were scintillating in their 2-0 win over Linfield in the Setanta Cup this week but, conscious of Cobh’s victory against the Hoops, manager John McDonnell is taking nothing for granted this evening.
“Rovers don’t concede too many goals,” he said, “so to beat them 2-0 was quite a result. We’ll need to be on our guard and we’ll need to treat Cobh with the full respect they deserve.”
Centre-half David Partridge is back for St Pats having been suspended for Tuesday’s Setanta game and is likely to replace Joe O’Cearuill who picked up an ankle injury on the night. Brendan Clarke is out with a back injury and joins Jamie Harris and O’Cearuill on the injured list. Michael Keane and Dessie Byrne are both back to full fitness and are available for selection.
Not surprisingly, Cobh go into the game on a high after their first league win of the season.
Boss Stephen Henderson said: “Although we have respect for St Pat’s, we will have no fears going into this game. The lads acquitted themselves extremely well last week against Shamrock Rovers, and will face Pats with the same mindset. If the lads work as hard as they did last week then we will be confident of coming away from Richmond Park with a result.”
Although Ramblers’ Alan Carey has resumed training, it could still be another two weeks before he is match fit as he recovers from the hamstring injury which also caused him to miss the Rovers game. But he’s confident that Cobh can build on their form so far, as they gradually come to grips with life in the top flight.
“I think our home form is going to keep us up,” he says. “We’ve showed in our home games already that we are very hard to beat on our own patch.
“Even in the games that we drew (against Galway United and Cork City), we were the better side and could have won those games. We know that we can beat teams down here and I think that sends a message out to the other teams in the league that we won’t easily give up wins at home.”
Cobh’s neighbours Cork City will aim to continue their recent good form at Turner’s Cross when they take on Finn Harps (k.o. 7.45pm). With Drogheda United and Bohemians not in action until Sunday, City would record a big move up the table should they make it four wins on the spin against the Donegal side.
“We go into this game on the back of a good run of form,” says boss Alan Mathews, “and what is important at this stage is that we get ourselves into the position we aspire to be in, and to do that we need to keep this run going. Harps have had a solid start already and picked up a good number of points - in fact, they will probably feel they have been unfortunate not to have picked up a few more. We will have to come up with a quality, workmanlike performance if we want to get a positive result.”
Pat Sullivan is absent for Cork as he completes a two match ban, while Billy Woods (ankle) and Dave Mulcahy (groin) will also miss out.
As with much of the season so far, Harps boss Paul Hegarty’s preparations for this game have been troubled by injuries. Jonathan Minnock (achilles), Gary Beckett (ligament) and Chris Breen (ankle) are once again absent, although goalkeeper James Gallagher, who missed the game with flu last week, returns to the panel.
Shamrock Rovers will be looking to bounce back from the defeat in Cobh when they host UCD at Tolka Park (k.o. 8.00pm).
“We had a good start, but after those defeats against Bohs and Cobh it’s now an okay start,” is how manager Pat Scully sees it. But standing in his way tonight is the man he dubs a “wily old pro”, UCD boss Pete Mahon, who is anxious to see his side recover from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Drogheda.
“Defensively we were very poor and very much exposed,” says Mahon. “You can’t commit those kind of errors against a team like Drogheda. But I’m expecting to win tonight. I see no reason why we shouldn’t and it’s about time we beat Rovers,”
Gary McCabe will miss Bray Wanderers’ clash with second-placed Derry City at the Carlisle Grounds (k.o. 7.45pm) as he serves the second of his two-match ban.
Mark Duggan picked up a groin strain in last week’s game against Bohemians and is a big doubt tonight while Andre Georgescu, who missed Bray’s last two outings with a hip injury, is also unlikely to make it.
Derry meanwhile, await the results of fitness tests on Clive Delaney (hip) and Mark Farren (thigh) ahead of their trip south. Manager Stephen Kenny has also called under 21 player Martin Hamilton into the squad for the game.