League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- St. Patrick's Athletic

Mon, Apr 29 2019

Roberto Lopes during his team's 1-0 win over the Saints earlier in the season Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

SHAMROCK ROVERS  

Having won eight league games in a row for the first time in over two decades, it has been back-to-back league defeats for the Hoops in their last two games.

They still remain top of the table but will be seeking all three points, rather than thinking about another defeat when they welcome St. Pat's to Tallaght for the 8pm kick off – it is 12 months since they last lost three a row in the league.

The two red cards received in the first half of last Tuesday’s 1-0 Dublin derby defeat to Bohs obviously the affected the result in the game against the Gypsies but also last Friday’s 2-1 loss to Dundalk in Oriel Park.

With defenders Lee Grace and Trevor Clarke suspended and Sean Kavanagh injured, Hoops Head Coach had to deploy an unorthodox back fou against last season’s double winners. Captain Ronan Finn was asked to play right back while Stephen Bradely handed a first team debut to 16-year-old James Furlong.

“I thought we played really well in patches,” said Bradley about the Oriel Park defeat to his club’s media team. “We had our spells but when we had them we needed to score and obviously we didn’t. 

“When you look back at everything in the game I felt we did well. You’re up against a good side and we tried late on to get the equaliser but it just wasn’t to be.

“In the last 15 minutes of the first half, Dundalk had a spell but if you look at the possession it was about 60% in our favour for the whole game. When they had their spells they scored and that was the difference. We switched off for their two goals and we were punished.

“We were down four full-backs, a centre-half and a midfielder. Straight away you’re down five defenders and up against it in terms of bodes and numbers. It’s just unfortunate that the injuries and suspensions all seemed to be in one position. When you’re missing six players against Dundalk and almost nick at a point at the end there were definitely positives to take from it.”

Speaking about Furlong who is likely to be part of the Ireland under-17 squad for the upcoming under 17 European Championship, Bradley was full of praise for the transition year student.

“I thought he was brilliant. He showed a real maturity and his all-round game was excellent. At 16 years of age, to start in a game like that and perform like he did was a big positive for us. He showed us that he was ready to play. 

“James had been around and in with us since pre-season. It was no surprise but you just don’t know until you put players into those situations how they’ll react.”

When Rovers played Pat’s earlier in the season, the Hoops came away from Richmond Park with a 1-0 win thanks to an Aaron McEneff penalty.

“On their day St Pat’s have shown that they can beat anyone. Their results have been very mixed this year. They were beaten at home to Derry and then won their last few games. They have enough quality and ability to beat anyone so it will be a tough game but it’s one that we’ll be ready for.”

SAINT PATRICK'S ATHLETIC

The Saints are seeking their fourth league win in a row having beaten three of the bottom four sides in the last couple of weeks. They beat Sligo Rovers 2-1 and then they have had back-to-back 2-0 wins over first Finn Harps and UCD most recently.

Mikey Drennan against the Students was once again on the scoresheet and his six goals leaves him just one behind the leading league goalscorer, and now all-time record Dundalk goalscorer, Pat Hoban in this season’s goal charts.

"It was a tough game to be fair as UCD are a really good side,” said St. Pat’s assistant manager Ger O’Brien looking back at last Friday’s win in Richmond Park.

“Even though they haven't had fantastic results this season, they have played really well in games this year and gave us a tough game earlier in the season.

"We knew what to expect and they made it tough for us. We scored at an important time as they were on top for five or six minutes without really testing us. But luckily we got a corner and Ciaran [Kelly] popped up with a goal.

"From there I thought we really managed the game well to get the win."

Harry Kenny’s team sit fifth in the league table ten points behind the Hoops, but the Saints do have a game in hand over their south Dublin rivals and have finally hit a bit of form this season.

"They are going really well this season. They were very unfortunate last week with the way some decisions went against them against Bohs as there wasn't much in the match. Then going up to Oriel Park on Friday they were narrowly beaten by Dundalk as well.

"We have managed to make up six points on them in the last two games so it is important to we go to Tallaght and perform.

"We like to go up to Tallaght as we have had some positive results there over the last few years so hopefully we can go up there with a big Pat's crowd, put on a performance and make a really good game of it."

Referee: Tomás Connolly

MATCH STATS
The Hoops beat the Saints twice in the league last season (1-0 in March and 3-0 in May both in Tallaght). In Inchicore St. Pat’s won 2-0 in March and lost 1-0 in October.

Last Tuesday’s Dublin Derby attendance in Tallaght Stadium between Rovers and Bohs was the Hoops largest ever gate for a league game in Tallaght. So far this season, across seven league games, Rovers have averaged 3,721. That compares with an average of 3,117 for the first seven league matches of the 2018 season (and 2,318 for the equivalent period in 2016).

Harry Kenny played over 200 league games for Shamrock Rovers across a spell of 13 seasons with the Hoops. Stephen Bradley played 30 league games with the Saints in the 2011 season.

BETTING

Shamrock Rovers 8/13; Draw 13/5; St. Patrick’s Athletic 4/1.

PREDICTION
1-0 home win

Shamrock Rovers 

Injured: Sean Kavanagh. 

Doubtful: Greg Bolger, Sam Bone, Ethan Boyle

Suspended: None.

Saint Patrick’s Athletic

Injured: Kenny Browne

Doubtful: None

Suspended: Conor Clifford, Kevin Toner