UCD will be looking to bounce back from a string of defeats as they take on league leaders Cork City at the UCD Bowl, kick-off 3.00pm.
After a reasonably solid start, the Students have lost three in a row and will not find things any easier against leaders City in the Bank Holiday afternoon clash.
UCD’s perennial early season struggles are generally brought on by the fact that they are trying to gel a new team together and this year is no different with a new manager at the helm.
Aaron Callaghan’s side have impressed in stages and had accumulated seven points after the opening five games but the last three outings have yielded nothing apart from three moral-damaging defeats to Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk and Sligo Rovers.
The Students shipped five goals against Sligo on Friday night but that result was heavily influenced by an early penalty concession and subsequent red card.
The offending Thomas Boyle will now miss the Cork clash through suspension. The influential defender had been one of UCD’s bright lights this season and was named in our own Team of the Week last week.
Fellow defender Hugh Douglas does, however, return from suspension after he served his one game ban against Sligo Rovers on Friday and should return to the back four.
Callaghan remains upbeat despite the run of defeat and believes that his side are playing the right way, which will be rewarded in the long run.
“Even though the results haven’t looked great in the last few games, I feel like we have had some very good individual performances,” said Callaghan. “If we keep playing the way we are playing we will soon start picking up points and start moving in the right direction.”
UCD have scored more than a goal per game but will have to plan without Ayman Ben Mohamed who is ruled out with a knee injury, while Dean Clarke is struggling with a back injury and is also likely to miss out. Ian Ryan (foot) remains doubtful but could be in line to return if he passes a late fitness test.
Unbeaten Cork got back to winning on Friday night with a comprehensive victory over Drogheda at Turner’s Cross.
And while John Caulfield’s side are turning Turner’s Cross back into a fortress this season with top attendances, guaranteed goals and entertaining football, City also boast a 100 per cent record on the road this season with away wins in Derry and Athlone.
City have never found it easy at the Bowl or in its previous incarnation across campus and Caulfield knows it will be a stiff test for his charges.
“We haven’t won at the ground in two or three seasons,” said Caulfield. “Even in my day, it was a difficult place to go, and we haven’t adapted to that pitch in a long, long time.
“It’s a very tricky game so while there’s a temptation to make changes, it’s important for me and the management to pick a team that can get the three points.”
City should still have enough to come away with all three points, however, they must plan without Michael Rafter who remains sidelined with an ankle injury, while Danny Morrissey remains out.
Colin Healy is back in contention but may be named amongst the substitutes, which would see midfielders Dave O’Leary and Darren Murphy starting.
Anthony Elding is a doubt after only lasting 45 minutes in Friday’s victory, however, the defence will be bolstered by the return of Darren Dennehy. Brian Lenihan is rated as only having a 50/50 chance as he is struggling with a hamstring injury.
But you only have to look at the scorers from Friday night to show what City will bring to the Bowl and with Liam Kearney, Garry Buckley and Billy Dennehy leading the way, there can surely only be one result in this College examination.
Verdict: Cork City