Waterford out to have a say in the ‘business end’ of the season

It might only be August but the business end of the First Division is approaching at a rapid pace and the next week could be crucial.

By next Friday night, Cork City and Galway United will only have six games remaining after both had faced Waterford in the interim.

The title tilt expected of the Blues has not gained traction but Danny Searle may have a point when claiming his side are capable of toppling any opponent on their day.

That they’ve yet to beat either Cork or Galway this term has contributed to them plateauing in third place but they face both in the next three days – starting with the Tribsemen at home on Friday. A rearranged trip to Turner’s Cross follows on Monday.

“We know we can compete and beat any team on our day and that’s the consistency that we’re looking to get from the squad until the end of the season,” said Searle, only appointed in June.

“We have quality in the squad and some outstanding young players who can’t wait to get back on the pitch.

“Galway will prove another very tough task. There hasn’t been much between the sides this season with three very close matches so we need to perform to pick up points.

“John always has his side well set up but we’ve trained well all week and we’re ready for the challenge.”

He must tackle the assignment without two of his seasoned pros – Brian Murphy and Eddie Nolan – while Caulfield has a fully fit squad.

“This is a very big game because Waterford are still in contention for automatic promotion,” opined Caulfield.

“We are in the business end of the season now. Waterford have had some impressive wins lately, knocking St Pat’s out of the cup and beating Treaty United in the league last week, so we need to put in our best performance.”

A first of three Munster derbies in seven days for Cork sees them welcome Treaty. Cobh Ramblers travel to Wexford, while Bray Wanderers host Longford Town.

In the Premier Division, three-in-a-row chasing Shamrock Rovers would prefer if their trip to third-placed Derry City was on Saturday instead of Friday due to their European exertions. “Friday nights at the Brandywell are important to us and special,” said Derry boss Ruaidhrí Higgins.

“Without a doubt, it’s different to a Saturday or a Sunday so, if it could be helped, we weren’t moving. I would take the position Rovers are in.”

Bohemians and Dundalk clash at Dalymount, a relegation battle is in store between UCD and Finn Harps while Drogheda United square up against Shelbourne. All of Friday’s games kick off at 7.45pm.

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