Date: 3 p.m. Oct. 9, 2010
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
Over the past few weeks Rovers’ lead at the top of the Premier Division has been whittled down to just two points and as Hoops’ boss Michael O’Neill said after Tuesday night’s defeat to Bohemians, his side simply have to start winning again.
Three defeats in their last four league games is a sorry return for a side that seemed to have the title in their grasp and, with the pressure building on his players, O’Neill will know that defeat at the hands of a very good Fingal side would be catastrophic for morale.
The Hoops will continue to be without the services of Pat Sullivan, Sean O’Connor and Dan Murray, who have all suffered cruciate ligament injuries, although both Danny Murphy and Robert Bayly will be available after serving automatic suspensions.
Fingal, meanwhile, will be without Eamon Zayed who is in North Africa preparing for his first international outing with Libya as they prepare for Sunday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Zambia. Colm James is also out with a knee injury and central defender Shaun Maher will undergo a fitness test prior to kick-off.
Liam Buckley’s men have only won once in their last seven league games but have kept themselves afloat in the race for European qualification with draws against Bohemians, Bray Wanderers and, most recently, St Patrick’s Athletic.
Fingal currently lie four points adrift of both Sligo Rovers and St Pats as all three chase the third place finish that will offer automatic entry to the Europa League next season. But, crucially, the Northsiders have a game in hand and a positive result on Saturday would keep them right in the hunt.
So far this season, form dictates that the game will end in a draw, just as the previous three league meetings between the teams have done, and the suspicion is that it will take either a top notch performance from one of these sides or a slice of luck if this trend is to be broken.
Injured: Pat Sullivan, Sean O’Connor, Dan Murray.
Doubtful: Dessie Baker, Thomas Stewart.
Injured: Colm James.
Doubtful: Shaun Maher.
Unavailable: Eamon Zayed (International Duty).
Referee: Declan Hanney
Extratime prediction: A 2-2 draw.