League Preview: UCD -v- Shamrock Rovers

Fri, Oct 18 2019

Brandon Kavanagh wins the ball for Rovers in the May 2019 fixture between UCD and Rovers Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

UCD

The Students need a miracle if Friday night's match against Shamrock Rovers is not to be their final home game in the Premier Division for quite some time as relegation looms  (kick off 7.45pm).

With two games remaining bottom placed UCD trail Finn Harps by six points but crucially Harps have a goal difference that is 17 better than the Students - and Harps are home to Waterford on Friday.

In trying to gain points last week to avoid going down, UCD went down swinging in the match against Cork City in Turner’s Cross.

They lost 3-2 to City – a win that guarenteed the Leesiders their Premier Division status – the Students scoring two goals in a league game for the first time since 15 April.

All five of UCD’s wins in the league this season have come in Belfield with the last one coming in the 1-0 victory over Bohemians in July – which was turned into a 3-0 win due to the Gypsies playing Danny Mandroiu even though he was suspended.

Manager Maciej Tarnogrodzki won’t have Liam Kerrigan available to him as he will be serving a suspension following his late red card against UCD. While Evan Osam is back in training, he is likely to miss the match and will Josh Collins it seems. 

SHAMROCK ROVERS

The Hoops take their final trip away from Tallaght of the league campaign when they take on UCD in Belfield, with their final Premier Division game coming at home to Cork next week. Their focus will soon be fixed on the FAI Cup Final against Dundalk though.

The Hoops, who cemented second place in the league last month, got their 23rd clean sheet of the season last week when they defeated Finn Harps 1-0 – thanks to a late Greg Bolger strike, his third goal of the season.

“Greg Bolger doesn't seem to score the easy goals,” said Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley. “It always seems to be a great strike from 25-30 yards and Friday was another great one. 

“We want to hit our levels in our last few league games and if we do that against UCD and Cork then the FAI Cup final will look after itself. It's just about maintaining what we've done all year."

Between Greg Bolger, Dylan Watts, Ronan Finn, Gary O’Neill and Neil Farrugia there is plenty of former UCD talent in the Hoops squad. Farrugia made his debut for Rovers last week after a long spell on the sidelines following his summer move to Tallaght from Belfield.

“I thought Neil Farrugia showed real glimpses of quality on his debut. He's been out a long time with a serious injury so it was great to get him onto the pitch. He was supposed to play in Sligo but he got sick. 

“Neil's been frustrated for the last month or so because he was over the worst of the injury, all the rehab was done so it was just about making sure he was 100% right before he could play. 

“Neil Farrugia and Gary O'Neill speak very fondly of their time at UCD and really enjoyed their time there. It was a big part of their development. I'm sure it'll be strange for them going there and being in the opposition dressing room but I've no doubt that once the game kicks off their minds will be fully focused on winning it."

Roberto Lopes looks set to come back into the team having missed his first game of the season due to making his international debut for Cape Verde.

“He really enjoyed it and it was a great experience for him. I'm delighted for him because it's a just reward for his performances this year. Playing for your country is the pinnacle and he's gone and done that."

Referee: Graham Kelly.

MATCH STATS

UCD have an awful record against Rovers this season, losing all three games, conceding 11 goals and scoring just one. 

The matches in Tallaght between the sides ended 3-1 and 7-0 to the Hoops while the three points at the UCD Bowl went the way of Rovers thanks to a solitary Dan Carr goal. 

UCD haven’t beaten the Hoops since April 2013.

BETTING

UCD 10/1; Draw 18/5; Shamrock Rovers 2/7.

PREDICTION

2-0 away win for the Hoops.

UCD

Injured: Not available

Doubtful: Not available.
Suspended: Liam Kerrigan.

Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Sean Callan.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: Jack Byrne.