Peter Boyne previews a major early season clash between title-contenders Dundalk and St. Patrick’s Athletic.
This week the Saints make the short journey up the M1 to Oriel Park. As a St. Pat’s fan, we cannot say we weren’t disappointed at our defeat at the hands of the Hoops in our opening game.
We expect to beat Dundalk this time out, but the Lilywhites expect to beat us. The funny old game, never leaves much to be desired but one can’t always have one’s cake, and eat it. This week, should be no different as the Saints try to wrestle the title back from the grasp of the county Louth outfit.
Liam Buckley’s St. Patrick’s Athletic, will be leaving the comfort of the “Stadium of Light”, and looking to follow up last week’s 3-0 home win over Bray Wanderers by picking up their first three points on the road this season. As we all remember, in Week one Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers more so battled the wind and rain than each other.
Buckley has made it clear in his pre-match thoughts that Pat’s will have a tight game in Dundalk this week. The games between the sides last year were of a similar nature, barring the thrashing Dundalk handed Pat’s early on in the year. Buckley is no stranger to the big scene, the tight game, the pressure – having brought Pat’s their first FAI Cup in more than five decades.
“Games between ourselves and Dundalk are always very tight, as was the case a few weeks ago (in the President’s Cup final) where only a few little things proved to be the difference,” Buckley told stpatsfc.com.
“I’d expect it to be the same on Friday so from our end of things, the players know they have to be switched on and produce a performance on the night. If they do that, we’ve got a chance,” he added.
The Saints had been missing the services of Killian Brennan and Sean Hoare for the trip to Tallaght, however they both returned last Friday, with Brennan opening his tally within minutes of the start. Hoare, played a big part in the comfortable win, but has made no secret of his disappointment at missing the game away to Shamrock Rovers.
However, the Saints boss will be missing the services of defensive duo Jason McGuinness and club captain Ger O’Brien for the trip to county Louth, due to their respective hamstring injuries. However, this may see Conor McCormack fill in at right full in his native county.
Buckley could give a full debut to American midfielder Morgan Langley and Togo international Cyril Guedjé on Friday night, after he completed his first full week of training with the Inchicore side.
Stephen Kenny has seen his side win their first two games, in what some would see as a perfect start, but Kenny has been in the game a long time and knows that this is not a guaranteed sign of things to come.
When speaking to dundalkfc.com, Kenny said,
“We want to push on and keep that going. Each game is difficult and we will go out to try win every game.”
They have started brightly, they have been solid defensively, but Kenny is more than aware that these things are not gifted to us in football.
“Friday night will be a tough match, St. Patrick’s Athletic are a good side but we’ve prepared well and are ready for the game,” Kenny concluded.
Lilywhites full-back Sean Gannon, who is set to play against his former side on Friday night knows how tough the tie against The Saints will be. After all, he was part of Pat’s title-winning side. However, he, in slightly different company to Kenny, is upbeat about tonight and also the previous results.
“We’ve made it two wins from two and that’s all you can ask for really. We’re happy with that,” the defender explained.
Dundalk beat St. Pat’s 2-1 in the President’s Cup final earlier on this month, a result that would have left many Saints fans satisfied that they can build on that, while Dundalk lifted their first piece of Silverware for the year.
“We played St. Patrick’s Athletic a couple of weeks ago in the President’s Cup and it was a really tough game. They were good on the day and it was a difficult match.
“Every game is tough, no matter who it’s against but we will prepare well and look forward to it,” Gannon concluded.
Stephen O’Donnell, will be missing for the home side tonight with a knee injury, but Stephen Kenny has no other worries ahead of the game.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Assistants: Mark Gavin & Wayne McDonnell
Fourth Official: Ben Connolly
Home 7/5; Draw 23/10; Away 15/8.
Pundit Arena Prediction
This writer fancies Christy Fagan to continue where he left last year and resume business as usual. Dundalk will not be a push over though, with their big guns in midfield and also their ability to play smooth, flowing football.
Dundalk 1-2 St. Pat’s
Peter Boyne, Pundit Arena