PAUL DOOLIN is relishing the prospect of a first visit to his old club in their new home when Cork City take on Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght this evening (kick off 7pm).
“I’m delighted for Shamrock Rovers that they are now in Tallaght,” the Cork City manager says. “Having had four successful years at Rovers as a player, I’m delighted that they have a home ground of their own again and it looks like a smashing place. They picked up a good win against Dundalk, so it will be a tough game for us but hopefully we can perform well and get another three points.”
A 1-0 victory over Drogheda United on Tuesday made it three wins in a row for Cork City and moved the club up to third in the table after an initially underwhelming start to the campaign.
“It’s funny the way football works,” Doolin reflects. “I think in the first few games we played quite well, particularly against St Pat’s and Derry, yet we got nothing out of those games, whereas in the last three games we’ve got the results and that’s been great.”
City’s Stephen O’ Donnell has begun rehab on his knee injury and is now jogging but it will still be a couple of months before he is fit to return to the fray, while tonight’s game comes too soon for Latvian Robert Mezeckis. Otherwise Cork will be at full strength against a Rovers side who will be without the suspended Stephen Bradley and who have injury doubts in Ian Birmingham, Pat Flynn and Barry Murphy.
Leaders Derry City host Sligo Rovers in a northwest derby at The Brandywell (7.35pm), hoping to make the most of the chance to extend their advantage at the top to four points before champions Bohemians play St Patrick’s Athletic at Dalymount Park on Saturday.
Although Sligo registered their first win of the season against Bray Wanderers on Tuesday, the Candystripes go into the game buoyed by their resounding 3-0 dismissal of Pats on the same night.
Says assistant manager Alan Reynolds: “We are obviously delighted not only with the result against St Pats but the manner in which we played. We passed the ball really well and were clinical with our finishing in the first half and it’s that type of play that we will need to reproduce if we are to overcome a Sligo Rovers side with no fewer than six ex-City players in their ranks.
“Sligo had a good result against in Bray midweek and will be confident, but we have prepared well and are in good goalscoring form, so hopefully we can continue in that vein, secure another three points and give our loyal home support a good start to the Easter weekend.”
Dundalk will be without Thomas Heary (hamstring) and Michael McGinlay (ankle) for their trip to the Carlisle Grounds to take on Bray Wanderers (4pm) in a game which can’t come quickly enough for manager Sean Connor after the midweek home loss to Shamrock Rovers.
Says the manager: “We were a bit shocked that we failed to pick up any points from a match that we totally dominated. However, I am again delighted with the response in training. All the lads are enthusiastic and very much looking forward to the trip to Bray. It is obviously going to be a very tough game against a very good side.
“But we’re very confident that we can pick up our second successive away win despite the fact that Bray are very strong at home.”
For the home side, Dave Mulcahy (groin), Paddy Kavanagh (ankle) and Derek Pender (knee) all of whom missed the trip to Sligo on Tuesday will once again sit out the clash with Dundalk, while manager Eddie Gormley has another injury worry with goalkeeper Chris O’Connor struggling with a knock picked up at the Showgrounds.
Meanwhile, fourth-placed Galway United travel east to take on Drogheda United at United Park (7.45pm) with manager Ian Foster again without the services of the injured Shane Fitzgerald, John Russell and Mark O’Toole. Seamus Connelly is also a doubt after being substituted on Tuesday against Bohemians with a groin injury.
Although still propping up the Premier Division table, Drogs boss Alan Mathews saw encouraging signs in his team’s narrow defeat at the hands of his former club Cork City.
Says Mathews: “I’m disappointed we didn’t score to at least get the draw, as Cork had no real fluency to their play, and we matched them for the majority of the game. We know ourselves that we need to work very hard for the full 90 minutes against Galway.”
Drogheda expect to be without the luckless Shane Barrett, who suffered a fresh injury blow against Cork, while Alan McNally is also rated doubtful for tonight’s game.
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