Rovers boss Stephen Bradley wary of the threat Shels pose
Place in FAI Cup quarter-finals at stake as old rivals clash in Tolka Park
Stephen Bradley: “We know Shelbourne are going to be really up for it.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
But Stephen Bradley is cautious too about the threat the tie poses for his team, with the Tolka Park outfit having already sprung one surprise to get this far.
“We know Shelbourne are going to be really up for it,” says the Rovers boss. “They won well in Waterford [in the first round], we had them watched down there and in the last few weeks as well. They’ve been doing well and getting results so we know it’s going to be a tough game.”
It has been a while since the two old rivals last met in the competition but when they did, almost five years ago, Shelbourne won. A repeat of that result would provide an enormous lift for Heary and co with the First Division side’s league season effectively over for quite a while now.
But Rovers will start as firm favourites to progress to the last eight. Both managers have close to full squads to choose from although the hosts have Niall Lanigan suspended and the visitors will be missing Simon Madden for the same reason.
Galway head to Richmond Park without either David Cawley (suspended) or Marc Ludden (injured) as they look for the sort of victory that might lift morale and help restore a little bit of lost momentum to their campaign to get out the relegation zone in the league.
Having drawn home and away with St Patrick’s in the Premier Division this season, Shane Keegan’s side looks to have its work cut out given the scale of the Dublin side’s recent improvement.
Liam Buckley has improved options up front with Christy Fagan available again and Kurtis Byrne having done so well last week while Killian Brennan returns from suspension nut Gavin Peers is still out and Owen Garvan faces a late fitness test.
Holders Cork City go into their game against Athlone in the unusual position of trying to end a run of home defeats but after the way in which their opponents were beaten last week by Longford, the league leaders would be expected to progress comfortably enough.
Inevitably, though, John Caulfield, who has doubts about Greg Bolger, Robbie Williams and Achille Campion, is cautious enough about his side’s prospects. “We will treat Athlone the same way we treat every other game and we will have our strongest team out.”
Fixtures (7.45 unless stated): Bangor Celtic v Longford Town, Iveagh Grounds; Bluebell United v Cabinteely, Stradbrook (7.0); Cork City v Athlone Town, Turner’s Cross; Drogheda United v Cobh Wanderers, United Park; Shelbourne v Shamrock Rovers, Tolka Park; St Patrick’s Athletic, Richmond Park.