Date: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21, 2011
Venue: Terryland Park
Last weekend’s 4-0 reverse away to Bray Wanderers marked their 23rd league defeat of the season and their 20th in succession, a record that will do little to dampen the optimism of the travelling Shamrock Rovers fans. With just one victory to their name this year, in league or cups, Sean Connor’s men will be looking to pull off the kind of shock result that has the bookies offering 25/1 for anyone brave enough to back such an event.
The Galway boss will be without long term injury victims Sean Kelly and Johnny Keane and will also have to plan without Ronan Cauldwell and Laurence Gaughan who miss out due to work commitments and suspension respectively. The club have also released Enda Curran and David Cullen. The one bit of good news for the Tribesmen is that Bobby Ryan is fit and available.
Despite all the problems, Sean Connor sees the fixture in a positive light, telling the Galway United website, "To be honest with you, I'm really looking forward to it. It's always nice to play the big teams, it's good for the players and it's good for the club.
Connors’ opposite number, Michael O’Neill, travels west without Ken Oman who suffered a knee injury in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier away to FC Copenhagen. Dan Murray will continue in his place alongside Craig Sives, while Conor McCormack is rated highly unlikely to take part following a knock he picked up in last Thursdays 1-1 draw with Partizan Belgrade.
Rovers enter this tie in rude health, having given a good account of themselves in the Europa League against Partizan, though Galway fans will be hoping that the Hoops will suffer a bout of ‘Euro distraction’ in advance of the second leg which will take place in Belgrade next week.
Sadly for the home side, Rovers don’t seem to do distraction, having picked up three wins and kept three clean sheets since their European adventure began back in early July. These results include a 1-0 win over Bohemians in the Dublin derby and a comprehensive 6-0 dismissal of UCD.
“Our form in the league has been very good lately.” said O’Neill. “We’ve won three games on the bounce, scoring eight goals and playing some very good football. And we’ll be looking to continue that on Sunday, and get the win and another three points. If we get the win we will have taken 19 points form this quarter, and that’s the position we want to be in come Sunday night. We have a chance to go clear at the top, still with a game in hand, and we will be looking to take that chance.”
The feeling is that Galway’s run of defeats has to end at some point but, all things considered, it is highly unlikely to happen this weekend.
Injured: Sean Kelly (knee), Johnny Keane (knee).
Unavailable: Ronan Cauldwell.
Suspended: Laurence Gaughan.
Injured: Ken Oman (knee).
Doubtful: Conor McCormack (knee).
Suspended: Pat Flynn.
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Paddy Power Odds: Galway 25/1; Draw 8/1; Rovers 1/14.
Extratime prediction: Rovers to canter home 3-0.