Following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of league leaders Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Monday night, Aaron Callaghan’s side face into the second of three clashes in the space of eight days with teams in the top four as third placed St Patrick’s Athletic visit Dalymount Park on Friday night.
For Callaghan facing St Pat’s is another tough challenge but one he feels his side are more than capable of rising to. “I go into all matches thinking of them as tough games, whoever it’s against. But the games against the top-of-the-table teams are ones I really look forward to because I believe if we get our performance right we can give any team a game.”
Despite the score line at Sligo, the Gypsies manager took encouragement from the second-half display on Monday and from the “top-class performances” of several of his players but “individual errors cost us in terms of goals conceded. But it just highlighted the fact that we are short on strikers,” added the former Crusaders and Longford Town manager.
Ex-Sligo player Kevin Devaney made his debut as a second-half sub against his former employers and gave Bohemians extra pace, according to Callaghan, and is expected to be in the squad for Friday.
On the injury front, Callaghan must do without the services of Ryan McEvoy (ankle) and Owen Heary (back) and goalkeeper Andy McNulty will face a late fitness test because of the ankle injury sustained in the warm-up at The Showgrounds on Monday. Kevin Feely returns from his one-match suspension. Recent signing Garrett O’Connor is unlikely to feature against St Pat’s as he works on building his fitness.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
In the wake of their convincing 3-0 win against Derry City at Richmond Park last Monday, third placed St Pat’s will be hoping to close the gap to league leaders Sligo Rovers and second placed Drogheda United with a win against the Gypsies on Friday night, in what will be the first of two Dublin derbies in four days for the Saints.
Pats travel to Dalymount Park unbeaten in their last seven games against Bohemians in all competitions, with the last league defeat for the Saints in Phibsborough coming in 2009. The last meeting of the sides at Dalymount in March produced a scoreless draw while in June former Bohs’ striker Christy Fagan bagged a 94th minute winner to earn a dramatic 2-1 win for Pats in Inchicore.
St Pat’s manager Liam Buckley confirmed that Dean Kelly and Stephen O’Flynn have returned to training following groin and rib problems respectively. Buckley’s side is further boosted with news that Darren Meenan returns from suspension for Friday’s Dublin derby, while Brazilian Hernany Macedo is available for selection after his registration was completed. However Mark Rossiter remains on the sidelines as he recovers from a knee injury.
Speaking to stpatsfc.com, the Saints’ manager was wary of the challenge that Bohemians would present his side, given the two previous meetings of the sides this term could have went in Bohs’ favour.
"Bohs will be tricky opponents as they’ve shown in the previous two games this season. They got a great goal and led for most of the game against us in Richmond a few months back, so we know what they’re capable of. Aaron Callaghan will have his side well set-up so we’ll have to put in a good performance to win,” said Buckley, now in his second spell as manager at Richmond Park.
Following his return to the starting eleven for the first time in a month last Monday, Pats’ midfielder John Russell told stpatsfc.com of his relief in returning to the pitch and his eagerness to ensure that the Saints continue on from their win against Derry City.
“I hadn’t played since the away game against Hannover in the Europa League, and there’s nothing worse for a player to be in the stand and watching a game you can’t influence. Hopefully we can keep up the level of play we produced on Monday against Bohs this week, as any game between the two sides is always a big game.”
“That being said, they’re all big games from now until the end of the season. The squad realise that and we’re all hungry and ready to go and try and go out and win as many games from now till the end of the season to put pressure on the sides ahead of us,” added Russell.
Referee: G. Kelly.
Their last match at Dalymount ended 0-0, giving Bohs’ their first point in the league campaign after three defeats.
Since the two sides last met in June (2-1 to Pats at Richmond Park), Bohs have picked up 12 points in nine league games and Pats have secured 15 points over the same period.
St Patrick’s Athletic are unbeaten away from home so far this season, with their last defeat away from Richmond Park coming on the final day of last season when Drogheda United won 4-3 at United Park.
Bohemians 3/1; Draw 9/4; St Patrick’s Athletic 10/11.
Bohemians 0-2 St Patrick’s Athletic.
Bohemians Injury News: Ryan McEvoy, Owen Heary, Andy McNulty.
Bohemians Suspension News: None.
St Patrick’s Athletic Injury News: Mark Rossiter.
St Patrick’s Athletic Suspension News: None.