UCD in firing line as Hoops bid to extend lead

CHAMPIONS Shamrock Rovers, two points clear at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division table and with a match in hand over second-placed Sligo Rovers, will be hoping to stretch their lead at the top when they take on UCD at the Belfield Bowl tonight (7.45).

“We have UCD tonight and then a home fixture against third-placed Derry City on Monday. These are two very important games for us at this stage of the season,’’ said Hoops boss Michael O’Neill.

The Hoops supremo may change his starting line-up from the side that swept aside Athlone Town 4-0 in the FAI Cup third round last Friday — but definitely out is the suspended Enda Stevens.

The young College side have suffered four league defeats in-a-row but were given a boost by last Friday’s 2-1 FAI Cup third round victory over Cherry Orchard.

The Students, who won 3-2 in a corresponding league fixture last season, have Robbie Creevy, David O’Connor and Graham Rusk all back from injury.

Sligo Rovers will be hoping to end a miserable run in Dublin this season when they take on seventh-placed Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

The Connacht men will be without injured talisman midfielder Joseph Ndo but definitely starting will be the Airtricity PFAI Player of the Month for May, Eoin Doyle.

The talented striker scored seven goals in three games as the Westerners kept up their title challenge.

“Our results in Dublin have been disappointing and we have been giving away soft goals. You won’t win many games if you keep doing that, so we have to tighten up at the back,’’ said Sligo boss Paul Cook.

Bohemians will be minus suspended defender Aidan Price while veteran Ollie Cahill is ruled out by injury.

Manager Pat Fenlon will give late fitness tests to Ger O’Brien, Mark Rossiter and Killian Brennan.

St Pat’s, unbeaten in their last nine league games, have Gary Rogers, Brian Shortall, Jake Carroll, Anto Murphy and Derek Doyle all set to return for the clash with third-placed Derry City at Richmond Park.

The five players missed last Monday’s EA Sports Cup 2-1 defeat by Cork City at Turner’s Cross. But Conor Kenna and Derek Pender are still missing through injury

Derry, who will be without the suspended James McClean, suffered a shock 4-1 FAI Cup defeat by lowly First Division side Wexford Youths in their last outing.

‘‘We were extremely disappointed to be knocked out of the cup so tamely,” said Derry boss Stephen Kenny. “Now we have to be looking for a positive result, but you have to earn that at Richmond Park.’’

Bray Wanderers will be hot favourites to pick up another three points when they travel to Terryland Park to take on bottom club Galway United.

Manager Pat Devlin has to plan without suspended defender Adam Michell while there will be late fitness tests for John Mulroy, Chris Shields and Daire Doyle. Stephen Last is added to the travelling party.

Galway boss Sean Connor hopes to have new signings Ian Rossiter and Jonathan Keane available but missing will be Shaun Kelly (suspended), Josph Yoffe (injured) while Leaving Cert exams rule out Shane Keogh and Darragh Duggan.

Dundalk should extend their unbeaten home record when they entertain neighbours Drogheda United at Oriel Park. Boss Ian Foster is boosted by the return of defender Colin Hawkins from illness, although Michael Hector is suspended while Nathan Murphy has a hamstring problem.

Drogheda, with just one win in 16 league games, have Colin O’Brien suspended.

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