Bohemians travel up the M1 to Dundalk on Friday night (kick-off 7:45pm) looking to continue their 100% record for games played in August.
Dundalk manager Sean Connor’s men have lost their three encounters against Bohs this season, conceding eight goals and scoring none. The Dundalk manager believes his team need to strike first to progress.
“Since the draw was made, this is a match that myself, the staff and the players have been really looking forward to. The game will test our mettle, our concentration and our tactics to the limit. I think the game will be all about the first goal. The first goal will be vital. If Bohemians score it, they are probably the best team in the country at seeing games out and killing games off, so it’s imperative that we get the first goal.”
Connor has no suspension worries for the game and it is hoped that Shaun Kelly, Ger Rowe and Thomas Heary will all be fit in time after missing the visit of Bray Wanderers on Tuesday evening.
Bohs manager Pat Fenlon said he and the team were looking forward to the clash with Dundalk. “It’s the FAI Cup and we’re the holders so we’d obviously like to get into the next round. It’s probably one of the toughest draws we could have got in the cup so we’re going to have to be at our best up there.”
Fenlon added that he was happy with the team's performance on Tuesday against St Patrick's Athletic and he praised defender Ken Oman for his two goals. “Ken has worked hard on his own game. He and Brian [Shelley] have formed a decent partnership.”
Pat Fenlon will be without Jason McGuinness who remains out with a back injury while Anto Murphy is still struggling with an ankle problem.
Extratime.ie Prediction: Bohemians to win, 2-0.
Crumlin United –v- Waterford United
Waterford United put their league challenge on the back burner for a week as they travel to Richmond Park on Friday night to face giant-killers Crumlin United in their FAI Ford Cup 4th round tie (kick-off 7.45pm).
The game will take place at the home of St. Patrick's Athletic rather than Crumlin's Pearse Park ground, as the Inchicore stadium is deemed better able to handle a decent sized crowd. The Blues have never crossed swords with the current Leinster Senior League champions, but they have fallen foul of opposition from the same division in this competition in the past, most notably Wayside Celtic on two occasions in the 1990s. They also needed a second attempt to get past Tolka Rovers in 2007. And, of course, they will need no reminding that Crumlin dumped Shelbourne out of this year's Cup over two 3rd round matches back in June.
However, United have faced their fair share of potential non-league banana skins already this season, getting by Carrigaline United in the last round of this competition, and Douglas Hall, Clonmel Town and Rockmount in the Munster Senior Cup.
The Blues must be considered strong favourites to progress. They are in fine form in recent games, winning their last five on the trot, and in Graham Cummins they have a striker in scintillating form right now. A brace at Kildare County last weekend makes it 13 goals in the last nine games, and 22 in all competitions this season. United also have an exceptional away record - in 15 competitive games away from the RSC this year, they have won 12 and lost only the once, which was to Shelbourne in the league.
Waterford have no suspensions to deal with, and the only injury worry is to midfielder Dave Warren, who limped off towards the end of the Kildare match with groin trouble, and has to be rated a slight doubt for Friday's game.
Extratime.ie Prediction: Waterford United to be too strong for Crumlin 3-1.
Sporting Fingal –v- Athlone Town
Sporting Fingal striker Robbie Doyle will undergo a fitness test ahead of Friday night’s FAI Ford fourth round Cup tie against Athlone Town at Morton Stadium (7.45pm).
Doyle is recovering well from a knee injury and could be available for Friday night but, otherwise, manager Liam Buckley has a full panel to choose from.
“After the amount of injuries we had early in the campaign, having a full complement of players is a huge relief. It’s important now to keep everyone injury-free for the last round of matches in the campaign,” said Buckley.
Three wins in a row had instilled confidence in the squad and Buckley is looking for a decent run in the FAI Cup.
“Athlone will come to Morton Stadium in good spirits having held UCD to a draw last week but we did well to reach the quarter-final of the competition last season when St. Patrick’s Athletic beat us after a replay and I think we’re capable of doing well again.”
Meanwhile, striker Gary O’Neill admits he’d like for have more goals in the bag following an injury-plagued start to the season.
“I feel my form has been patchy since I joined the club this season,” he said. “The groin started during pre-season trip and it was a long wait to be back in action last month after three months out.
“I’m a striker and my job is to score goals. In that respect, I’m delighted to have gotten off the mark against Longford Town recently but I think I should be scoring more.”
Athlone manager Brendan Place while having no suspensions is struggling with selection due to players being cup tied and injured.
Austin Skelly, Mark Salmon and Davie O’Connor are all cup tied while the club is awaiting clarification on the availability of Andrei Georgescu as he may be unable to play due to the 14 day signing rule. Mick Byrne (Groin), Noel McGee (Hamstring) and David Tyrell (Hip) are all definitely available while Kevin Williamson (Ankle Ligaments), Alex O’Reilly (Neck) and Johnny Mernagh (Hamstring) are extremely doubtful having all been unable to train for the past week and will undergo fitness tests just prior to the game. 16 year old Tom O’Halloran returns after missing last week’s draw with UCD due to international commitments but might not be asked to play as while away in Holland played 3 full games over just a couple of days.
Speaking to Brendan Place after training Wednesday night he said “It was always going to be tough against what is a full time set up in Fingal but that is now an even tougher proposition due to the amount of players unavailable.”
“ We are a small club in the process of rebuilding and our squad is getting better by the week but having 3 maybe 4 players cup tied and another 6 out injured who would all be first team starters leaves little time to work on areas during the training with players not involved week after week as we are only part time and meet up for only about 5 hours prior to match weekends.”
“ All the aces are in Liam Buckley’s hands and it is his to lose but we will go there with heads held high and hopefully perform to our full ability and make a game of it. Though at the end of the day while it is great get a cup run the league is our priority and that will remain so.”
Extratime.ie Prediction: Sporting Fingal to win, 3-0.
Gareth Penrose is the Owner of Extratime.ie. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @garethpenrose
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