O’Neill rallies Rovers for visit of troubled Galway

CHAMPIONS Shamrock Rovers will be hoping to get back on the winning track and maintain their three-point lead at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division with victory over bottom club Galway United at Tallaght Stadium tonight (8pm).

After being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Derry City on Monday, boss Michael O’Neill admitted that he was disappointed his team did not pick up the three points.

“We had enough chances to win the game and deserved a victory — now we must make up for that against Galway,” said O’Neill.

Rovers have no injury or suspension worries as opposed to Sean Connor’s Galway outfit who are minus the suspended Stephen Walsh, both Sean Kelly and Jonathan Keane are ruled out by knee injuries while Alan Murphy faces a late fitness test on a groin problem.

“It’s difficult as we are low on confidence. We just have to keep on working and we need a bit of luck,” said Connor.

With just one win in 17 league games, Galway have their work cut out to make the scoreline respectable.

St Patrick’s Athletic, unbeaten in their last 11 league games and just three points behind the Hoops, will be hoping to keep up their pursuit for top spot with victory away to improving Drogheda United at Hunky Dory Park (7.45 pm).

Again missing will be long-term injury absentees Conor Kenna and Derek Pender while both Brian Shortall and Evan McMillan have late fitness tests. But a boost for Inchicore boss Pete Mahon is that Anthony Murphy is expected to return after recovering from a virus bout.

“This will be another tough game as Drogheda will be on a high after defeating neighbours Dundalk at Oriel Park last week. We cannot allow any complacency to creep in and must stay within touching distance of the top to give ourselves a chance,” said Mahon.

Drogheda boss Mick Cooke seems to have turned the corner with three wins in their last four competitive games with real hopes of getting further away from the relegation zone. The squad will be unchanged after that shock victory over Dundalk.

Third placed Bray, the shock team of the season after narrowly avoiding relegation last year, welcome back key central defender Adam Mitchell after suspension as they host Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds (7.45pm).

But they will still be without long-term injury absentees Garren Quigley, Gary Shaw, Stephen Brennan, Dave Webster and Jake Kelly.

Dundalk have come off the rails with successive defeats by Sligo Rovers, Drogheda United and St Patrick’s Athletic. Manager Ian Foster has a long injury list with Jason Byrne, Stephen Maher, Eoghan Osborne, Michael Hector and Stephen McDonnell all definite absentees while Colm Hawkins has a late fitness test.

Derry City, in fourth place, will be hoping to build on successive draws away to St Pat’s and Shamrocks Rovers when they host mid-table Bohemians at the Brandywell (7.45pm).

Despite all the controversy surrounding striker Eamon Zayed amid allegations of racism, the Libyan international will lead the Derry attack with fellow striker Patrick McEleney doubtful with a virus problem.

Bohs boss Pat Fenlon must plan without the suspended Danny Joyce and Killian Brennan. Veteran Ollie Cahill and Ger O’Brien are missing through injuries but central defender Aidan Price returns from suspension.

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