October 12, 2011
SC1 Sports calls on title-chasing Shamrock Rovers and Derry City to #raiseyourgame ahead of tomorrow night’s crunch clash in the Airtricity Premier Division.
With Rovers and Derry having three and four league games remaining respectively, the outcome of tomorrow’s game is likely to have a defining say who will be crowned champions on October 28th.
Having taken advantage of Sligo Rovers’ defeat to St.Patrick’s Athletic on Saturday with victory over Bray on Sunday, Shamrock Rovers have put themselves in control of the title race. Should they beat Derry tomorrow evening they would only require three points from their remaining two fixtures in order to retain the title. Although a draw from Thursday’s game will suffice for Michael O’Neill’s men, it is unlikely that O’Neill will adopt a negative approach as he and his players will feel that victory is well within their capabilities.
By contrast, anything but a win for Derry will effectively end their title aspirations. The Candystripes, who became the first team to defeat Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght in 2009, will need to be at their best if they are still to be contention for the league come Friday morning. Speaking to the Derry Journal, Kenny refused to call this game a title decider. This is only accurate in the sense that Derry cannot win the league tomorrow night. With games against Bohemians and St. Patrick’s Athletic ahead, a win for Derry will keep them in contention, whereas a win for Rovers’ will all but crown them champions.
City enter tomorrow’s game as underdogs, and what they’ve achieved in their first season back in the top flight is remarkable. Many among the Candystripe faithful would have been content with a year of consolidation and the suggestion of a title race would have been dismissed out of hand at the beginning of the season. That said, Derry City have earned their league position and are a very good team who possess excellent balance; both in terms of youth and experience as well as in style of play. Tomorrow they will be at full strength and their players will relish the underdog tag in their pursuit of becoming the third side – after Bray and Sligo – to defeat Shamrock Rovers at home in the league this season.
The teams have already played out three tightly fought contests this term, with Derry just edging the head-to-head as a result of their victory over Rovers at Brandywell in early July. Although Rovers’ recent form is slightly better than Derry’s, the Candystripes carry an impressive twenty-one game unbeaten run into Thursday’s fixture.
Derry must play for the win tomorrow night. This factor should make for fireworks. Catch it live on RTE 2. Kick off: 7pm
Derry City: Doherty, Molloy, Greacen, S.McEleney, Lafferty, McGlynn, Higgins, Deery, McLaughlin, P.McEleney, Zayed .
Stephen Kenny is extremely unlikely to adopt any tactical surprises in terms of personnel and will most probably select what appears to be his preferred eleven. Due to the adaptability of his players, he may opt to switch the positions of Patrick McEleney and Gareth McGlynn, making what is normally a 4-4-2 into more of a 4-5-1.
Shamrock Rovers: Brush, Sullivan, Sives, Murray, Paterson, McCabe, Rice, O’Donnell, Dennehy, Sheppard, Twigg.
Michael O’Neill has the luxury of strength-in-depth and for this reason his team selections are often difficult to predict. However, it can be said with certainty that whatever eleven takes to the field in Tallaght tomorrow night, they will believe that they can come away from the game with three points and be one step closer to retaining their League of Ireland crown.
Recent Form: Shamrock Rovers DWWDW; Derry City DWDDW
Betting odds: Shamrock Rovers Evens; Derry City 11/4; Draw 11/5
SC1 Sports’ verdict: Draw
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