Sligo set for six-pointer at the Showgrounds

SLIGO ROVERS will be hoping to narrow the gap on leaders Shamrock Rovers to two points when the sides clash in tonight’s crucial Airtricity Premier Division tie at the Showgrounds (7.35pm, RTÉ2).

After a scoreless midweek draw away to Derry City, Sligo boss Paul Cook is happy with his side’s defensive showing as that was his team’s sixth clean sheet in seven games.

“It was a good point to win in Derry. Now we are hoping for a big crowd and a big support against Shamrocks. It is a chance for us to throw open the race for the title and we will not be lacking in effort,” said Cook.

The Hoops give late fitness tests to striker Karl Sheppard and defender Ken Oman.

“We showed great determination not to be beaten by Dundalk as we were 2-0 behind at one stage but the players know it was not one of their best performances,” said boss Michael O’Neill.

“But we have always responded well to disappointments and we have had excellent results at the Showgrounds in the last two seasons. We want to maintain that record.”

Second-placed St Patrick’s Athletic, just a point behind the Tallaght side, will be hoping to make it 14 matches unbeaten when they host Bray Wanderers at Richmond Park.

Ruled out through injury are Conor Kenna and Dave Mulcahy while Derek Pender has a late fitness test. Bray boss Pat Devlin must plan without the injured Gary Shaw, Darren Quigley, Stephen Brennan and Jake Kelly.

“We made a couple of defensive mistakes in the Bohemians game and got punished for them and missed a few chances as well.

“I am glad this game against St Pat’s comes so soon, as it is the perfect opportunity for us to bounce back,” said Devlin.

UCD will have their work cut out when Stephen Kenny’s side travel to the Belfield Bowl.

Last time these met, Derry won 7-0 at the Brandywell and another three points looks there for the taking against a College side minus influential injured midfielder Robbie Creevy.

Dundalk will be hot favourites to overcome Galway United at Oriel Park with striker Jason Byrne ready to make his comeback after a six-week injury lay-off. Colin Hawkins and Dean Bennett are both doubtful.

It cannot get much worse for Galway with just one win in 19 league games, 14 defeats in a row and the entire squad put up for sale.

“The players are devastated but I have to look after them as they are all professionals.

“Already I have had calls from clubs in Ireland as well as England and Scotland,” said manager Sean Connor.

Bohemians are likely to keep an unchanged side for the visit of improving Drogheda United to Dalymount Park.

After his two goals against Bray on Monday, young Christy Fagan will again lead the attack.

With three wins in their last five games, Drogheda boss Mick Cooke hopes to lead his club out of the relegation zone but has to plan without the suspended Mark O’Brien.

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