Heary believes title success would be the sweetest yet

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WINNING THE title this year would fulfil Owen Heary several times over. The Bohemians captain is on the cusp of equalling the record of seven league titles. That, coupled to Bohemians retaining the title, the race being so close, and beating arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers in the process, would all add to the pleasure rating.

“There would be much more satisfaction this year,” said Heary. “People have said it hasn’t been retained in so long. I did it at Shels and I know how hard it is. There is also the fact there would be more pleasure in winning it because it’s so close . . . everything seemed to be pointing in Rovers’ direction.”

Should Bohemians beat FAI Cup finalists Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park and Shamrock Rovers fail to beat Galway United at Tallaght Stadium, the champions will have retained their title tonight. The likelihood is it will go to the last game next week when Bohemians travel to Bray and Rovers visit St Patrick’s Athletic.

Heary is again likely to miss out tonight due to a sciatic nerve problem affecting a hamstring.

Manger Pat Fenlon has said his side have played their best football over the last few weeks and Heary believes losing to Rovers was the catalyst. “After the Rovers game it rejuvenated us a bit. Them beating us sort of pushed us on saying ‘right, we can’t afford to lose now’. The lads have responded well.”

Ken Oman, out for both remaining games with a calf injury, is Fenlon’s only other absentee.

One eye may be on the cup final, but Sligo still need points to steer clear of the relegation play-off zone. Manager Paul Cook is without suspended defender Danny Ventre while winger Owen Morrison is out again with a calf injury. Leading scorer Raffaele Cretaro may not be risked as he nurses a knock.

“Every fixture this weekend has something hinging on it – and our game against Galway at Tallaght Stadium is no different,” said Rovers’ manager Michael O’Neill, who has a fully fit squad available. “We know it’s a must-win game and that’s what we intend to do.”

Galway, three points above the play-off places, are without Mark O’Toole (hand) while captain John Russell is a doubtful starter with an ankle injury.

St Patrick’s Athletic will hope for homes wins from both their Dublin rivals as a win at Drogheda United would thus lift them out of the bottom three. Manager Pete Mahon is without midfielder Gary Dempsey (hamstring) while he waits on defender Jason Gavin (groin) and striker Declan O’Brien (hamstring). Captain Damian Lynch and left-back Enda Stevens are available again following suspension and injury. Drogheda, resigned to a play-off, though possibly still needing a point to avoid finishing bottom, are without striker Jamie Duffy (hamstring).

Bray Wanderers must win at Derry City, and hope Drogheda lose, to avoid being relegated tonight. Captain Derek Pender returns from suspension, though Chris Deans is banned.

Derry’s board were in discussions with playing staff yesterday ahead of this month’s wages being due today. Manager Stephen Kenny is without suspended pair Gareth McGlynn and Tam McManus while Thomas Stewart (knee), Mark Farren (illness) and Steven Gray (ankle) are out.

Cork City are without captain Dan Murray through suspension, but welcome winger Billy Dennehy back from a ban, for the visit of Dundalk to Turner’s Cross.

Dundalk, whose manager Seán Connor is being linked with a move to Scottish Division One side Morton, are missing Michael Daly and Simon Kelly through suspension, Michael Collins (ankle), while Tiarnan Mulvenna is absent due to a family bereavement

The First Division title could also be won tonight, should UCD win at Athlone Town and second-placed Shelbourne lose at home to Longford Town.

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