It’s a somewhat lopsided Setanta Cup semi final lineup this year with all four teams taking part coming from the Airtricity League. The Irish League challengers failed to make any inroads in this year’s competition and so we have even more familiar pairings this time around, with all four participants coming from the top half of the table. Shamrock Rovers host Cork City in first of the night’s two ties, while Sligo Rovers are looking to fill the one conspicuous gap in their trophy cabinet in this competition and they will hope to continue their fine run of form in their away tie against Drogheda United.
Shamrock Rovers vs Cork City
How you assess this tie largely depends on how you assess Rovers’ 7-0 win over Bray Wanderers at the weekend. Was that a one off, or have Trevor Croly and his players finally found their groove? If they have, they should have far too much for a middle of the road Cork team tonight, all the more so since it will be a depleted side that will travel up the M8. Darren Dennehy returns from the suspension he acquired the last time these two sides met, but Kevin Murray and Dan Murray are both definitely out for the visitors, while Neal Horgan is unlikely to line out due to a knee injury. Danny Murphy (knee) should be available but Shane Duggan (dead leg) and Colin Healy (knee) are highly doubtful while Gearóid Morrissey is suspended.
All that adds up to a lot of chopping and changing for Tommy Dunne and the Cork boss gave us some inclination of his approach to this Setanta Cup Semi-final first leg when he suggested that he just wanted to keep the tie alive in advance of the return leg in Cork. Them ain’t fighting words.
On that basis we wouldn’t expect Cork to go all out chasing an equaliser if they fall a goal behind, so odds of 7/10 about a home win (Hills, BWin, Betway) are probably worth supporting here.
Drogheda Utd vs Sligo Rovers
If this was a league game with three points at stake, we’d probably be happy to keep on the side of Sligo Rovers here. After all, how do you oppose a team that has won their opening ten games, two in the Setanta Sports Cup and eight in the Premier Division of the Airtricity League? The two Setanta Sports Cup wins came in the quarter-finals against Glentoran, who were demolished 8-0 on aggregate, while their last four league wins have seen them score ten goals without reply.
Nonetheless we were very impressed with the way that Drogheda came back from behind to record a win over Shelbourne and in front of their own supporters, they could be better than some people expect here.
Sligo Rovers have yet to win this competition and while the league remains the number one priority, the feelgood factor that would come about from putting a trophy on the mantelpiece this early in the season is not something that Ian Baraclough will want to ignore.
The safe play here could be backing them on the “draw no bet” market, and doubling them up with the other semi-final, where Betway are also best priced when it comes to the selection we’re looking for.
2pts Double: Shamrock Rovers to win (straight), Sligo Rovers to win (Draw no bet) @ 6/4 approx, (Betway)