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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Hoops chasing second place

Ex-Gypsy Byrne is ready for stick in derby

Dundalk midfielder Ronan Finn: 'Sligo Rovers are a really good side'
Dundalk midfielder Ronan Finn: 'Sligo Rovers are a really good side'

Former Bohemians man Luke Byrne is desperate to get one over on his old club today so Shamrock Rovers can stay in the hunt for a top two finish.

Defeat to Dundalk on Tuesday night ended any faint hopes that Rovers had of competing for the league title, so the aim now at Tallaght Stadium is to make sure the Hoops are in Europe next season, pushing Cork City for second place is now the aim.

"We know it's in our hands to finish second. We've got to take as many points as we can and I am confident we will finish second," says Byrne as Rovers dust themselves down from that loss in Oriel Park to get ready for a Dublin derby.

Having enjoyed dominance over Bohs for long periods, Rovers have not enjoyed the fixture this season as Bohs held the Hoops to a 0-0 draw in Tallaght in March and Keith Long's side then beat Rovers 3-1 at Dalymount Park in June.

And the former Bohs favourite Byrne admits that his side have a point to prove in this derby.

"We were the better team for the first hour and then I don't know what happened, we dropped off, they probably showed a bit more hunger which is unacceptable no matter who you're playing against, especially in that game and it's something we will be looking to put right today," stated Byrne, who says he thrives on the stick he gets from Bohs fans.

"Yeah I enjoy it. I take it as a bit of a compliment," he says. "If I had left and wasn't a good player, they wouldn't care that I had left. I still have a lot of friends there and they're a good club but I'll be looking to beat them today."

The Gypsies' season appeared to be over with that FAI Cup defeat at home to Bray Wanderers last month, but with Dublin rivals Rovers and St Patrick's Athletic both dropping points in their most recent games, a faint hope of European qualification has emerged for Bohs.

A win away to Rovers today would push them six points behind the Hoops and while bridging that six-point gap against a club who have a game in hand is a big task, Bohs will hope to make their local rivals work that bit harder for those European spots.

However, Bohs are hampered today with squad problems as Roberto Lopes - until now an ever-present in the league - and Derek Prendergast are suspended.

Also today, Dundalk can take a step closer towards the league title when they face Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park.

Dundalk have already beaten Rovers twice this season, and the clubs face up again in the FAI Cup next week, but Sligo's upturn in form under boss Micky Adams has caused the champions to preach caution.

"Sligo Rovers are a really good side," says Dundalk midfielder Ronan Finn.

"They have really turned a corner the past few weeks since the new manager has come in, they have got some good results and have done well.

"It's going to be a difficult game for us, they will be coming here to win but we're in good form, we're confident and hopefully we can get the victory."

Meanwhile, First Division side Cabinteely have been sanctioned by the FAI for fielding an ineligible play in a league game in July.

Dean Ebbe played against UCD - a game Cabinteely lost - but as he was registered to another club when he played for the Dublin side, Cabinteely have been fined for the transgression.

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