Hoops chairman Jonathan Roche expressed his delight that the refurbished ground had passed UEFA’s inspection, saying: “It is wonderful news for us as a club, but also for the Tallaght area. We were pushing hard to have the games played at home, and are delighted UEFA have given us the go-ahead.”
He added: “We are very grateful to the FAI — particularly chief executive, John Delaney and the licensing department – and to South Dublin County Council, for the great support and assistance they have given us to be able to have these games in Tallaght.”
The Hoops will be hoping for further cause for celebration in their Airtricity League Premier Division game at home to Sligo Rovers tonight, when the bulk of the pressure will be on the visitors to make up ground in a race which currently sees the reigning champions, who also have a game in hand, leading Derry City by two points and Sligo by five.
Says Hoops boss, Michael O’Neill: “This is a big game for both teams. For us, it gives us a chance to put a good gap between ourselves and Sligo at the top of the table.”
For tonight’s game in Tallaght (8pm), Rovers will be without Dean Kelly (groin), Conor McCormack (knee) and Ken Oman (knee) while there are doubts over Billy Dennehy (groin).
Derry welcome UCD to the Brandywell (7.45) and will be without Gareth McGlynn (knee) and Michael McCrudden (ankle) as manager Stephen Kenny demands his players don’t let their standards drop.
“We have to strive to have the level of intensity that we show every week,” he says. “The players have been extremely consistent and need to show the hunger required to continue to win more games.”
Still smarting from their 6-0 thrashing by Shamrock Rovers in the cup, UCD will be looking for much better against the Candystripes.
Says manager Martin Russell: “The defeat by Rovers was tough to take and going with a young squad to the Brandywell is never easy but we intend to give Derry a tough game.”
Also in the Premier Division, it’s Bray v St Patrick’s Athletic at the Carlisle Grounds; Drogheda v Bohemians at Hunky Dorys Park and Galway v Dundalk, Terryland Park.
In the First Division, Cork City won’t be in action until they face Athlone Town away tomorrow, but, the meantime, the promotion hunters will be keeping a close eye on tonight’s games which see Shelbourne away to Mervue United, Limerick at home to Longford Town and Waterford United hosting Finn Harps. All three games have a 7.45 kick-off while Monaghan United’s game against Salthill Devon at Gortakeegan doesn’t kick off until 8pm.