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Friday's Airtricity League previews

Updated: Friday, 26 Oct 2012 15:21 | Comments

It's the battle of the Rovers at The Showgrounds Sligo are champions-elect while the Dublin side have an outside chance of a Europa League spot
It's the battle of the Rovers at The Showgrounds Sligo are champions-elect while the Dublin side have an outside chance of a Europa League spot

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Sligo Rovers will be presented with the Airtricity League Premier Division trophy after their final game of the season against Shamrock Rovers, while Waterford United and Longford Town play off in the First Division.

It's the final week of league fixtures and Drogheda United and St Pat's are both looking to secure runners-up spot, while Shamrock Rovers maintain a very slim chance of securing a place in next season's Europa League.

Sligo Rovers v Shamrock Rovers

Sligo Rovers will be presented with the Airtricity League Premier Division trophy after tonight’s clash with reigning champions Shamrock Rovers at The Showgrounds, kick-off 7.45pm.

Watch Sligo Rovers take on Shamrock Rovers live on RTÉ TWO and live worldwide on RTÉ.ie

Ian Baraclough’s side secured the title with victory over St Patrick’s Athletic in their last clash at home and this will be the first time the champions flag flies over the Sligo stadium for 35 years.

Sligo remain unbeaten at home all season in the league and will be looking to match Shelbourne’s similar feat in 2006 by avoiding defeat to The Hoops.

Mark Quigley returns to the squad after recovering from a calf injury, although Danny Ventre is suspended.

Alan Keane, Iarfhlaith Davoren, Danny North and Seamus Conneely are out injured.

Sligo boss Baraclough said: “They (the players) never give up and it is something that comes from within. We want to go out on a high and create history and create landmarks for this team.

“There is nothing riding on the game for us, it will not effect the league position or the context of the season. We said it after the game in Drogheda that we will give ourselves the best possible preparation for the game and try to finish off the season in style.”

Brian Laws’ Rovers will be looking to take three points from the game as they cling on to an outside chance of finishing third in the league to secure a Europa League spot.

Ciaran Kilduff (throat infection) and Tommy Stewart (thigh strain) are both ruled out of the game through injury, while Shane O'Connor will undergo a fitness test ahead of the game.

Laws said: "I am very much looking forward to the game on Friday. It will be good to get a chance to personally congratulate Ian Baraclough on his great achievement in winning the championship.

“But we won't be there just to make up the numbers. We will be looking to spoil their party by picking up a win and we also want to give our supporters who are travelling down something to cheer about on the night. We also want to end our season on a positive note."

Bohemians v Drogheda United

Drogheda United will be looking to secure runners-up spot as they travel to face Bohemians at Dalymount Park, kick-off 7.45pm.

Paul Crowley is available for selection for Mick Cooke’s United, having served his suspension.

Declan O'Brien is suspended following his red-card against Sligo, while Gavin Brennan and Peter Hynes are also suspended. Eric Foley is injured and unavailable.

United boss Cooke said: “It's been a much longer season that we initially anticipated and we still need to go out and get a result.

“We have to either match Pat’s or do better to make sure we finish second. Bohs are still fighting for sixth and a place in the Setanta Cup, so there's a lot to play for.

“We needed to win last week, we wanted to wrap up Europe before the final game of the season. And I thought our first half performance warranted more than a one goal lead. But the way we fought back says so much about this team.

“It's been an amazing season, I'm delighted that we at least got a trophy (winning the EA Sports Cup), for all the work the lads put in they deserve nothing less. And in going forward, we won't have to bring in as many players as I feel the lads that are here have really showed that they are capable of doing the job.”

For Bohemians, Owen Heary (hamstring), Derek Pender (back) and Adam Martin (ankle) are all out injured. Andy Mulligan, Luke Byrne and Michael Barker are also ruled out.

The Gypsies can still qualify for the Setanta Cup and manager Aaron Callaghan is delighted that there is something to play for.

Callaghan said: “I wouldn’t want it any other way. You don’t really want a meaningless game with nothing at stake.

“This situation puts a bit of an edge on the game which is always good. I believe there’s a twist in this somewhere and I just hope the twist goes our way.”

Dundalk v Bray Wanderers

Dundalk will have one eye on their upcoming play-off for Premier Division survival ahead of their clash with Bray Wanderers at Oriel Park, kick-off 7.45pm.

Derek Foran (groin), John Mountney (appendix), Stephen Maher (suspension), Gary Shanahan (ankle) and Paul Walsh (groin) are all certain absentees for Dundalk, while Bob McKenna (shin splints) is doubtful. Left-back Eoghan Osborne is available again following suspension.

Caretaker manager Darius Kierans will rest some players with the play-off clash coming just four days after the final league game of the season.

Kierans is focussing all his attention on the must-win two-legged play-off against either Waterford United or Longford Town next Tuesday and Friday, however he maintains that his side will “approach the game in a positive manner”.

Kierans said: “We will play some players who haven’t played in a couple of weeks and need game-time and then other players we will be leaving out and resting with a view to Tuesday’s playoff game, which is the most important thing.

“We will play some of the younger players, give them an opportunity and see what they can do.

“At the same time, in an ideal scenario, you would like a positive result to bring forward into the playoff.

“But the starting team will be a different one to that that will play on Tuesday, so I don’t know if the result would have any real significance. In saying that, it would give everyone around the place a boost.”

Bray defender Dave Webster is suspended for the trip to Oriel, while central defender Adam Mitchell and left-back Dane Massey return to the squad.

Bray will have to plan for Friday night without Conor Earley (knee), John Mulroy (ankle) and Ismahel Akinade (groin).

Bray boss Pat Devlin said: "We need to finish on a strong note. It won't be easy, it will be tough but we are looking forward to it.”

St Patrick’s Athletic v Cork City

St Patrick’s Athletic can secure a place in next season’s Europa League as they take on Cork City at Richmond Park, kick-off 7.45pm.

Cork boss Tommy Dunne has no fresh injury concerns with Garry Buckley (knee) and Brian Lenihan (back) still sidelined.

Dunne said: “It is simple. If we want to finish fifth, then we have to win. We have played well against St Pat’s this season; I think they have been evenly matched games.

“Obviously Pat’s have been more consistent over the course of the season, but there has not been a lot between the teams when we have met.

“We are capable of getting a result at Richmond Park, but St Pat’s are a good side, so we will have to perform well to get the result we want.”

Sean O'Connor is ruled out for St Pat's as he is serving a suspension, while Mark Rossiter remains out injured.

UCD v Shelbourne

UCD and Shelbourne go head to head at The UCD Bowl, kick-off 7.45pm.

Shels return to league action after their idle week last week and they will look to finish the season on a high having beaten Cork City in their last match.

Alan Mathews’ side were 2-0 down at half-time but scored three times through David Cassidy, Philly Hughes and Conan Byrne to win the tie 3-2.

Mathews travel with a strong squad to Belfield knowing that a win could see his side finish sixth in the final league standings.

Gareth Matthews and Brian Shortall are ruled out for Shelbourne as they are serving a suspension.

UCD can call on Graham Rusk and Cillian Morrison, however, Dave O’Connor (hamstring) misses out.

Division 1 play-off 2nd leg

Waterford United v Longford Town

Jamie Cross is suspended for Waterford and Gary Dunphy is a long-term absentee.  

Longford have not reported any injury concerns. 

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