Cork close in on the prize while relegation scrap heats up

City can clinch title in Ballybofey on Monday if they defeat Sligo at Turner’s Cross

Cork City’s Kieran Saldier with Ryan Brennan of Bray Wanderers. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cork City’s Kieran Saldier with Ryan Brennan of Bray Wanderers. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Cork can give themselves a shot of winning the title in Ballybofey on Monday by beating Sligo Rovers this evening although the visitors, who have drawn their last five in a row, will be aiming to do at least that much in Turner’s Cross and so stretch what passes for title ‘race’ out for another week or two.

The league leaders have Alan Bennett back but doubts about Robbie Williams while Rovers include Jamie McDonagh for the trip south after a suspension but not Daniel Kearns who is set to miss out with a hamstring injury.

If both Sligo and Galway, who play Shamrock Rovers at home, were both to lose there would be a real opportunity at Richmond Park for either St Patrick’s or Finn Harps to take a significant step towards safety.

Having taken 10 points from their last four games, the Dubliners probably look to be the better bet and Ollie Horgan admits his players will have their work cut this evening.

The hosts will be without Darren Dennehy, Gavin Peers (both injured) and Killian Brennan (suspended) but recently signed goalkeeper Lukasz Skowron could make his debut. Harps are missing Paddy McCourt and Caolan McAleer (both suspended) while Packie Mailey and Gareth Harkin are major doubts.

It is a big game for both sides with Harps likely the happier if it ends in a draw despite recent wins against Bohemians and Bray suggesting they are still capable of beating decent opposition on their day.

In the night’s other top-flight game, Drogheda urgently need to provide evidence that they can do the same with time running out if they are to avoid relegation and Bray need to recover momentum if they are to have any chance of qualifying for Europe.

Kevin Farragher, both Gavin and Sean Brennan as well as Stephen Elliott all miss out for the visitors but Thomas Byrne is back from suspension.

Fixtures (7.45 unless stated): Premier Division: Cork City v Sligo Rovers (7.30), Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United, Galway United v Shamrock Rovers, St Patrick’s Athletic v Finn Harps; First Division: Shelbourne v Cobh Ramblers, Waterford v UCD, Wexford v Cabinteely (8.0).

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