BOHEMIANS, still very much in the hunt for the coveted league and cup double, will start as slight favourites to reach the FAI Ford Cup final at the Aviva Stadium on November 14 when they play host to in-form Sligo Rovers in tonight’s semi-final at Dalymount Park (8.05 pm).
However, manager Pat Fenlon must plan without hamstring injury defenders Owen Heary and Jason McGuinness while both Anto Murphy and Steven Gray are long-term absentees after recent operations.
“We need a big crowd because Sligo will bring plenty of support. Every match we have played in the last three weeks has been like a cup final — so we are in the mode and that’s a good thing. There is a big prize at the end of it all — a final against Shamrock Rovers or St Pat’s,” said Fenlon.
“Sligo lost in the final last year when going down 2-1 to Sporting Fingal and I am sure that they would love to come back and rectify that situation. But we would love to be there as well as there is a lot of extra spice added with the final being played at the Aviva.”
Striker Jason Byrne has shaken off the effects of a knock which forced him to be substituted in last week’s vital 1-0 league victory over St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park. Byrne is likely to partner Paddy Madden in the attack, with the latter still a target for Celtic boss Neil Lennon.
Sligo boss Paul Cook is boosted by the return of midfielder John Russell after suspension while striker Romauld Boco in back after African Nations Cup duty with Benin. Both Mauro Almeida and Richard Brush are long-term injury absentees.
Having defeated Monaghan United 1-0 in the EA Sports Cup final already this season, Cook would love to see his side make it a cup double. And the Connacht men have happy memories of last season’s FAI Cup quarter-final when they recorded a scoreless draw at Dalymount Park and then triumphed 2-0 in the replay at the Showgrounds.
Having punished Dundalk 4-2 in a league game at Oriel Park last Saturday, Sligo will be on a high with Matthew Blinkhorn, Richie Ryan and Josph Ndo all hitting top form.
Meanwhile, UCD can guarantee a place in the Airtricity Premier Division next season with a draw against Dundalk in tonight’s league game at the Belfield Bowl (7.45 pm).
College boss Martin Russell will be in a confident mood after recent victories at home to Shamrock Rovers (3-2) and away to Galway United (4-1).
“The six points pleased me but the performances were excellent. There is still a lot of work to be done — but we are looking up and not down,” said Russell.
Dundalk boss Ian Foster will be hoping his team can record their first win over the Students since 1997 — but must plan without the suspended Wayne Hatswell and the injured Alan Cawley. Stephen McDonnell returns to the squad after Under 19 international duty in Bulgaria.
In tonight’s other league game Sporting Fingal will be hoping to keep up the chase for a place in Europe when they play host to struggling Galway United at Morton Stadium.
Delighted with last Saturday’s 2-1 away win over Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium, boss Liam Buckley will be without suspended midfielder Shaun Williams while defender Shaun Maher has a late fitness test on a hamstring injury. But striker Eamonn Zayed returns from international duty with Libya.
Galway boss Sean Connor, unhappy with four defeats in their last five league games, is already preparing for a relegation play-off at home to Bray Wanderers. Tonight he will be without suspended ‘keeper Barry Ryan while a knee injury rules out Stephen O’Donnell.
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