Harps and Youths in desperate scramble for points

With title chasers Dundalk and Cork City not in action until tomorrow, much of the attention in the SSE Airtricity League tonight switches to the bottom end of the Premier Division table with Finn Harps and Wexford Youths hoping to edge a little closer to safety respectively.
Harps and Youths in desperate scramble for points

Third bottom Harps, who earned their first point in ten games from the 0-0 draw at Sligo Rovers on Tuesday, host in-form Bray Wanderers while 11th placed Youths travel to face a dejected St Patrick’s Athletic whose season was all but ended by Cork City’s FAI Cup semi-final win their last Sunday.

“The stats show that Bray actually has a better results record than Dundalk and Cork City recently,” said Harps’ manager Ollie Horgan, who plans without Kevin McHugh (who suffered a freak finger injury), Ruairi Keating, Josh Mailey and the suspended Dave Scully.

“That shows you the scale of the challenge we are facing,” added Horgan. “Harry Kenny strengthened his squad mid-season with three or four quality signings. I saw them play recently and they were really impressive.” Following a club record five wins on the spin, Bray travel north with a full squad.

Wexford Youths are not so fortunate for their trip to Inchicore as five of their squad - Stephen last, Danny Ledwith, Conor O’Keeffe, Eric Molloy and Andy Mulligan — have emigrated to New Zealand this week. With defender Gary Delaney out injured and striker Aidan Keenan suspended, manager Shane Keegan will promote several of his U19s to the first team squad.

Third-placed Shamrock Rovers travel to arch-rivals Bohemians looking to potentially rubber-stamp their Europa League place for next season without suspended defender Sean Heaney while Trevor Clarke is away with the Republic of Ireland U19s. St Pat’s also have players away on international duty as Stephen Kinsella is with the U19s and Sean Hoare on U21 duty. David Cawley and Keith Treacy remain out injured while Conor O’Malley and Sam Verdon are injury doubts.

Bohemians expect skipper Derek Pender to be fit following a virus, though striker Ismail Akninade is still sidelined with illness.

“It’s our last home game of the season and it’s against Shamrock Rovers — we want to send the supporters home happy,” said Bohemians’ manager Keith Long, eager to avenge two defeats at the hands of the Hoops this season.

“We won’t need any motivation. The players are determined to give a gutsy and honest performance.”

Tonight’s matches (7.45 unless stated)

Premier Division:

Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers Finn Harps v Bray Wanderers (8.0) St Patrick’s Athletic v Wexford Youths.

First Division:

UCD v Shelbourne

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