Shamrock Rovers -v- DundalkThu, Sep 27 2012
Shamrock Rovers enter the weekend on the back of a traumatic three weeks that has seen them lose to their most bitter rivals, part ways with their manager, exit the FAI Cup and lose the EA Sports Cup final to a Drogheda United side that also look likely to finish above them in the league standings.
Picking up the pieces is the unenviable task of new boss Brian Laws who spoke positively in the build up to the game.
“Thankfully we don't have too many injury worries, so that gives me a chance to have a look at a few different options. We are all looking forward to the game, it's my first home league game since I came in and I'll be expecting a similar performance to the second half on Tuesday night against St Patrick's from the players.
"We need to put in a good, solid performance and get the win under our belts. We'll give Dundalk the due respect that they deserve, but as far as we're concerned we'll be concentrating on going out there and getting the three points."
Laws will be without Graham Gartland, with third choice ‘keeper Conor Winn also ruled out. Both have fallen victim to back injuries, while right back Pat Sullivan will also miss out through suspension.
If Dundalk are to avoid a relegation play-off, they will have to overcome an eight point gap between themselves and in-form UCD. With just five games to go this seems highly unlikely, though the Dundalk faithful see a chink of light as they travel to Tallaght this weekend to take on a Shamrock Rovers side that has seldom seemed so vulnerable.
But whatever the troubles of their hosts the stats do not favour Dundalk. Despite a solid showing in the FAI Cup their league form has been disastrous and they have picked up just five points from the last 42 available to them. They have also lost their last five league games on the spin and with odds of 11/1 available on a Dundalk win, the bookies are clear about how they think this one will go.
Manager Darius Kierans will be without a number of players for the trip to west Dublin. Gareth Brady is out with an ankle injury while top-scorer Gary Shanahan is doubtful with a thigh strain. He must also plan without suspended duo Derek Foran and Mark Griffin. Finally, Lorcan Shannon must also sit out the game as he is on loan from Shamrock Rovers and is precluded from playing.
The positive news for Kierans is that Robbie Gaul and Peter Thomas return after injury for a game that the Dundalk boss will hope goes better than the last time the Lilywhites played there.
“Tallaght is a great place to play. It’s the best ground in the League of Ireland and there is always a great atmosphere.
“We had a bad time there earlier in the season, losing 6-0, but hopefully the players can put that right. We have a lot of young players and that kind of game will have been a good learning curve for them”.
Referee: Damien Hancock.
The teams have played twice already in the league this season. Rovers won 6-0 at Tallaght back in April, but Dundalk earned a 1-1 draw at Oriel Park in July.
Gary Twigg is Rovers leading scorer with 16 league goals, three of which came against Dundalk in April. Dundalk’s top league scorer is Michael Rafter with five, though Gary Shanahan has managed eight in all competitions.
The last time Dundalk won in the league was 14 games ago, all the way back in May, when a brace from Mark Griffin earned them a 2-1 win over St Pats at Richmond Park.
Rovers 1/5; Draw 5/1; Dundalk 11/1.
Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Dundalk.
Rovers Injury News: Graham Gartland, Conor Winn.
Rovers Suspension News: Pat Sullivan.
Dundalk Injury News: Out - Gareth Brady (ankle). Doubt - Gary Shanahan (thigh).
Dundalk Suspension News: Derek Foran, Mark Griffin.
Dundalk Unavailable: Lorcan Shannon (on loan from Rovers).
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at email@example.com