Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Night at the Eircom League

IrishBar of My Irish Football Blog holds forth on this evening's fare in the league that is often called Eircom.


Drogheda United v Derry City
Two title contenders go head to head in this game which is live on Setanta Sports. Defeats to Drogheda cost Derry dear last season and this probably will again be a close encounter. Drogheda will be without a host of players through injury and suspension while Derry have a full squad more or less to choose from. Stadium problems mean that capacity for this game will be limited to 1500.

Drogheda have won their last four games after a slow start to the season while Derry have been blowing hot and cold since Pat Fenlon took over. With St Pats off to a flyer both these teams will be eager to not lose any more ground. I give Derry a slight edge in this game - at times versus Linfield things really clicked for them, Drogheda have a few big players missing and Derry will be motivated for revenge after last seasons defeats.

Cork City v Longford Town
Cork are the favourites for this one and rightly so. They will welcome back Kearney, Kelly, and O'Brien and may have Farrelly and Healy cleared by Fifa in time for kick off. John O'Flynn and Roy O'Donovan are starting to hit things off up front and goal scoring has not been a problem.

Longford have played three and lost three and although they have a lot of fight in the team they have really struggled so far.

They will be missing Deegan and Baker and may have to rely on a makeshift defence again.

St.Pat's v Bray Wanderers
Both these teams have surprised me with their respective starts to the season. St Pat's have got a 100% record and top the table whereas Bray have two wins from three after beating Bohs and snatching a win in Waterford. Pats may start with new signing Stephen Paisley and both O'Neill and Fahey may also return.

Bray are also at full strength and welcome back big defender Clive Delaney.

Shamrock Rovers v Galway United
Rovers didn't play last week as their game with Bohs was moved to this Tuesday and Galway lost out deep in injury time to a late Drogheda winner at Terryland. With four points from their first two games Rovers manager Pat Scully will be happy with their start and will be looking to keep another clean sheet against the division's other new boys.

Cassidy and Ferguson are suspended but Ger O'Brien, Eric and Dave McGill, Tadhg Purcell, Ger Rowe, Aiden Price and Danny O'Connor should all be fit for selection after recent injuries.

Galway have a full squad to choose from and it will be interesting to see if manager Cousins has settled on his first choice eleven and formation. I will be looking for another Rovers win in this one and will be taking them at even money to continue their good start to the season.

Waterford United v Bohemians
Waterford started their season with a shock win over Munster rivals Cork City but then went and lost their next two games to St Pats and Bray. Bohemians haven't started as well as many would have expected and have just 1 point from their first two games - more worryingly they have yet to get on the score sheet.

Bohs will be without Heary and Singh but should welcome back Neale Fenn to the starting line up to partner Glen Crowe up front. As I have said before with Crowe and Fenn upfront and Hunt and Kelly in midfield this team has goals in it and I expect them to become free scoring once they get their act together.

Ray Scully has been cleared by Fifa for Waterford but McCarthy, Keely and Brown will miss out through injury and suspension.Waterford will need their home form to be in good shape this season if they hope to finish above the bottom few places whereas Bohs will need to be winning these type of games if they are serious about finishing in the top three or four.


Finn Harps v Monaghan United
Harps (and their fans) would have been expecting to have more than just one win from their opening three games but having said that a trip to Cobh is always difficult considering the distance and there is no shame in losing to Dundalk.

Their manager will be missing from the touchline as he starts a two game ban but Holmes should have his first game of the season after being cleared by Fifa to play. Monaghan are probably a little lucky to have the two points that they do - they threw away a two goal lead on the opening day of the season and somehow managed to get a draw in Kildare in their second game.

They would have been hoping to get something from their game last weekend at home to Kilkenny but ended up losing that one also. Striker William Doyle is available for the first time this season but Barry Burke is still serving out his suspensionIf Harps are serious about finishing near the top of the division they must be winning home games like this one.

Monaghan will be looking for a point but unless they raise their game substantially they will be going home pointless.

Kilkenny City v Shelbourne
Premier League Champions to the bottom team in Division 1 hasn't taken Shels long. However they are starting to look a bit fitter and will be very close to full strength tonight after Leech and Brophy were cleared to play. Crawford and Collins may also return from injury.

Kilkenny got their first win in 26 attempts last week away up north in Monaghan but I will be very surprised if they make it two wins out of two. Shels will be looking at this game as a real chance to get their first win of the season and if they can get rid of the basic defending errors that cost them last week they should come away with three points. Shels to get their first win.



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