Preview: Shamrock Rovers v Drogheda United – prediction, team news, line-ups


Sports Mole preview Saturday’s League of Ireland Premiership clash between Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda United, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.

Seeking to strengthen their position at the top of the League of Ireland Premier Division, Shamrock Rovers will entertain Drogheda United Saturday.

Three straight wins have seen the Dublin side move eight points clear at the top, while their visitors find themselves one place above the relegation play-off spot.

Match preview

After winning their second consecutive League of Ireland Premier Division title last season, Shamrock Rovers have for the most part continued their formidable domestic form this season, establishing themselves at the top of the Irish top flight.

With 39 points in 17 outings, Stephen BradleyThe team boasted a comfortable lead, but two losses in three games against Saturday’s opponents and Dundalk quickly saw the latter close the gap while keeping two games in hand.

The Hoops managed to bounce back impressively from this minor setback, first getting back on the winning streak with a 1-0 win over rivals Bohemians thanks to Rory Gaffneybefore making it three on the rebound with narrow triumphs over St Patrick’s Athletic and wrestlers Finn Harps.

The Dublin giants then carried that positive form into their Champions League first qualifying round tie with the Hibernians as a 3-0 win at home was enough to seal an aggregate victory, with Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts and Gaffney on the scoresheet, only for them to suffer their own 3-0 loss in the first leg of their second-round draw with Ludogorets Razgrad last time out.

With their hopes of reaching Europe’s top competition largely dashed, Bradley’s men will once again turn their sights to the league and hope to avenge Drogheda with a win to extend their already favorable eight-point lead over third-placed Derry City.

The visitors, meanwhile, will arrive aiming to create another upset, having struggled through much of the top-flight campaign so far.

Kevin DohertyThe team had to endure a rocky start and soon found themselves battling on the wrong side of the division, but two key spells have, so far, kept them out of the relegation spots as they have first produced a six-game unbeaten streak, including two wins between mid-March and mid-April.

They then bounced back from four straight defeats with back-to-back wins, including a surprise 1-0 triumph over the league leaders thanks to Ryan Brenanbefore playing three draws to move away from the bottom two.

The Drogs would upset the odds again earlier in July, as Dean WilliamsThe opening goal was the only difference in a 1-0 win over then second-placed Dundalk, only for them to lose by the same scoreline last time out. Liam Burt scored the only goal in a 1-0 away win for the Bohemians.

Now with a 13 point lead over Finn Harps in the relegation playoff spot, Drogheda should feel relatively comfortable but will still be looking for positive results to ensure they are not dragged into the mix if the ninth-placed team were producing a comeback.

Form Shamrock Rovers League of Ireland Premier:

Shamrock Rovers form (all competitions):

Form of Drogheda United League of Ireland Premier:

Team News

Shamrock Rovers will be able to call on the top scorer again Graham Burkwho came off the bench against Ludogorets after missing his last league game, but will face tough competition to start in attack.

Rory Gaffney is bound to keep his place up front, having scored seven goals and provided eight assists in 25 league and Champions League qualifying appearances so far this season.

Key midfielder Richie Towel played an attacking role on their trip to Ludogorets, and he is set to have a place in the starting XI again after settling for a substitute appearance in their last league win over Finn Harps.

Drogheda United’s attack is again set to be led by young striker Dean Williams, who has scored six Premier Division goals so far this season.

Captain Gary Degan has featured in every minute of top-flight action this season except for a contest with Derry City for which he was suspended, and is expected to team up again Darragh Nugent in the engine room.

Possible starting line-up of Shamrock Rovers:
Mannus; Gannon, Lopes, Grace; Finn, McCann, O’Neill, Kavanagh; Towel; Gaffney, Burke

Possible starting line-up of Drogheda United:
McCabe; Heeney, Quinn, Cowan, Weir; Nugent, Degan; Markey, Clarke, Rooney; williams

We say: Shamrock Rovers 2-0 Drogheda United

Appearing to be racing towards another league title, Shamrock Rovers are unlikely to go off the rails on Saturday, given the superior quality they have throughout their squad.

For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, please click here.

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