Pack look to close gap on Dundalk

After their team put eight past Bray it surely can’t be long before Lilywhites supporters start referring to Barcelona as ‘the Spanish Dundalk’.

But at least the chasing pack now have 24 hours to try to close the gap on the side John Caulfield has already said “seem untouchable” in the SSE Airtricity League this season.

With Stephen Kenny’s men not in action until they visit Longford tomorrow, Shamrock Rovers in second and Cork City in third will tonight hope to make inroads into the six and seven point gaps which currently separate them from the leaders and champions.

Caulfield’s City will also be looking for their first win in three— after losing at home to Dundalk and drawing away to Bohs — when they entertain struggling Sligo Rovers at Turner’s Cross (7.45pm)

“Sometimes, when you are down, you need a reaction, you need guys to bounce back,” says the City boss.

“There is no hiding place. There is a long, long way to go but we need to refocus and get back to what we are good at.

“From the outset, 22 points is a fair return; I probably would have hoped for 24. There’s a lot we have done very well and some stuff we haven’t done as well. We have given some outstanding performances, but we have been disappointing on occasions too. The important thing for us is to get back winning, hang in there and keep the pressure on.

“We have to make sure that we take the three points.”

Cork, however, have significant injury worries going into the game. Already without skipper John Dunleavy (knee) and Alan Bennett (hamstring), they will also have to assess Billy Dennehy, Mark O’Sullivan and Garry Buckley closer to kick off.

And despite their difficult season so far, Sligo boss Owen Heary is in positive mood.

“There is confidence in the team going into this one,” he says. “Cork are a top of the table team and are getting big crowds but we are well capable of going down there and getting a result.

“It’s great to be going to a ground where there has been such great crowds. It’s unbelievable for players to play in front of so many people.”

Gavin Peers misses out again for Sligo while Morten Nielsen is struggling, like Peers, with a groin problem.

In a Dublin derby that is also now a dress rehearsal for their FAI Cup clash, St Patrick’s Athletic are sure to provide a test of Shamrock Rovers’ title credentials when they meet at Richmond Park while, as part of the Elite Referee Exchange programme between the FAI and the FAW, Welsh officials will be in charge of the game between Bohemians and Limerick at Dalymount Park.

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Derry City host Galway United and Drogheda are at home to Bray while, in the First Division, it’s Athlone Town v UCD, Finn Harps v Waterford United (8pm), Shelbourne v Cabinteely (8pm) and Wexford Youths v Cobh Ramblers (8pm).

Games kick off at 7.45pm unless otherwise indicated.

Finally, Bray Wanderers have announced that their caretaker manager Maciej Tarnogrodski has stepped aside “for time out to reflect” following their 8-1 trouncing by Dundalk. That means the Wicklow side are still in search of a new manager amid much speculation that Alan Matthews is in line for a return to the club.


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