With their ten-point lead at the top, Dundalk might already have one hand on the league trophy but as they head to Dalymount Park to take on Bohemians this evening, the defending champions know that they will be coming up against the only side to have inflicted a defeat on them in the league this season.
However, since that shock 2-1 victory at Oriel Park 12 weeks ago, Bohs have lost six of their nine league games, leaving manager Keith Long pining for their earlier good form.
“We have to try and enjoy the game again and play with the courage we showed in the early part of the season,” he said. “We need to get back to having a go at teams, and being defensively organised.”
They will certainly need to be the latter against a Dundalk side who have scored eight in their last two outings, putting four past St Pat’s in the league and the same again against Galway United in the FAI Cup.
Long must once more contend with significant injury problems at Dalymount. On top of long-term absentees, missing for the home side will be Eoin Wearen, Robbie Creevy, Jake Kelly and Anto Murphy.
After back-to-back defeats in the league, Cork City boss John Caulfield more or less conceded the title to Dundalk but noting this week that “crazy things can happen in the run-in”, he is still looking for his side to give their all, beginning with tonight’s game at home to Galway United.
Steven Beattie and Stephen Folan return to the squad after being cup-tied for the morale-boosting cup win over St. Pat’s, but Gavan Holohan and John Dunleavy remain sidelined. Danny Morrissey and John Kavanagh will also miss out, while there is a doubt over the availability of Darren Dennehy.
Former City boss Tommy Dunne, now at the helm of Galway, needs no telling how difficult a trip to Cork can be.
“We’re going to Turners Cross to have a go at them but it will be difficult,” he said. “We’re down some important players.
Absent for the Tribesmen tonight are Enda Curran (suspension), Stephen Walsh (ribs), Marc Ludden (concussion), Padraic Cunningham (knee) and Ryan Connolly (ankle) while Samuel Oji (calf) is rated 50/50. H
However, Andy O’Connell does make a long-awaited return to the panel.
Limerick continue their bid to make ‘the great escape’ when they travel to United Park to take on a Drogheda side who are now just seven points ahead of the basement club.
Limerick goalkeeping coach Eddie Hickey has dubbed this one “a World Cup final” while manager Martin Russell reckons the club’s new-found momentum should be a worry for Sligo, Derry and Galway, as well as the Drogs.
“I think anybody that’s within the seven-point radius of us can’t see themselves as being safe,” he said.
Limerick will be missing suspended skipper Shane Duggan and injured midfielder Prince Agyemang.
The other SSE Airtricity Premier Division game this evening sees St Patrick’s Athletic host Derry City at Richmond Park while, in the First Division, it’s Cabinteely v Finn Harps, Stradbrook; Shelbourne v UCD, Tolka Park; and Waterford United v Wexford Youths, RSC.
All tonight’s games kick off at 7.45pm.
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