The Hoops welcome Waterford to Tallaght Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon (kick off 2pm). Having won their last five games in a row, Stephen Bradley’s side sit level on points with table toppers St. Patrick’s Athletic – who have a better goal difference of two over Rovers.
The Hoops are seeking three points on Monday which would see them break the all-time League of Ireland record run without a loss – they equalled the record of 30 league games undefeated achieved by a Rovers side in 1926 and 1927 following their 2-0 win over Finn Harps last Friday night.
The 1926/27 Rovers team went through the full 18 game season unbeaten – a feat that Rovers matched in 2020.
They are up against at Waterford side that have won two league games this season, losing the other six but the Hoops Head Coach thinks the result belies the performances from the Blues including their 3-0 defeat at home to Dundalk in their last league fixture – their heaviest defeat of the season.
“It is strange as when you watched them against Dundalk, they hit the post three times and missed a couple of chances in the six yard box – it wasn’t a 3-0 game,” said Bradley when speaking to extratime.com at the Shamrock Rovers Academy at Roadstone on Sunday morning.
“They had a lot of chances. They do create chances and their front four are really dangerous. They play with a lot of freedom. They are a dangerous team. The games they have lost haven’t been by large margins. They have been in every game. We will show them a lot of respect.”
Bradley wasn’t able to pick Pico Lopes for Friday’s game in Finn Park as the central defender spent the evening in hospital due to a suspected apendicities (see story linked below) but Lopes is available for selection on Monday.
As is Neil Farrugia who finally looks set to return to action having picked up an injury while away on Republic of Ireland under-21 duty last season.
“Neil is back in the squad tomorrow. We could have pushed him for Friday but we felt another few days would be important. He has been in and out of training the last couple of weeks to get him back going and he will be available tomorrow.
Pico Lopes spent Friday night in hospital rather than playing in Finn Park.— Extratime.com (@ExtratimeNews) May 2, 2021
However the defender trained today and is available for Monday's game against Waterford.https://t.co/ODH0GOfirp pic.twitter.com/09kdKOiWJv
The Blues come to Tallaght having lost four of their last five games including a defeat last Friday night at home to Dundalk – a game that Kevin Sheedy named a goalkeeper and two outfield players on the bench.
Paul Martin continued in goal for the Blues and going into Monday’s match only Longford Town now sit below Waterford in the table.
Speaking to the Irish Sun, Sheedy said he will continue with the policy of naming only three substitutes in protest he says at the standard of officiating in the league.
Sheedy's assistant Mike Newell is currently serving a four match ban following a dispute with the fourth official in Richmond Park recently about the colour of tape on the players socks. And this comes after he already completed a three match ban this season.
“At the moment, it will be the same stance against Shamrock Rovers,” said Sheedy. “I put academy players on the bench for last week’s game against Longford Town.
“But I wasn’t prepared to put a young player’s career on the line when I feel sure that he’s not going to get full protection from the officials.
“When we see an improvement (in officiating) and start getting the rub of the green then maybe we’ll start putting youngsters back on the bench.”
Waterford, like Shamrock Rovers, have switched off their social media channels this weekend “in solidarity with football clubs and fans around the world in a combined effort to stamp out online abuse”.
In solidarity with football clubs and fans around the world, we will switch off our social media channels from midnight tonight until midnight Monday in a combined effort to stamp out online abuse.#StopOnlineAbuse pic.twitter.com/2tNpMcKJq7— Waterford FC (@WaterfordFCie) April 30, 2021
Referee: Adriano Reale
The teams have played ten times since the return of the Blues to the top flight in 2018. Waterford won the first match against Rovers 2-1 that season and that is their last victory they have earned over the Hoops. There was a draw and two wins in the other encounters that year. Rovers won all four ties in 2019 and both matches in 2020 – 2-0 in the RSC and 6-1 in Tallaght Stadium
The Hoops are unbeaten in their last 24 domestic games at home – winning 19 - dating back to June 2019. Their only defeat in their last 28 competitve games in Tallaght was by AC Milan who beat the Hoops 2-0 in Tallaght last September.
Across his two spells at Rovers, Alan Mannus has kept 74 clean sheets in the league. Only Jody Byrne (76), Alan O’Neill (87) and Barry Murphy (97) have kept more. Murphy played 215 league matches for Rovers conceding 196 goals, with Mannus playing 142 matches so far in his career conceding 83 goals.
3-0 home win
Injured: Sean Kavanagh
Doubtful: Pico Lopes
Injured: Oscar Brennan, Daryl Murphy, Isaac Tshipamba, Shane Griffin, Eric Molloy, Matthew Connor
Doubtful: Cian Kavanagh
Suspended: Kyle Ferguson