First-team manager Dave Mackey is confident that Dundalk can build on their encouraging display on the opening night of the season when we take on Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Friday evening.
Fielding a team that contained eight debutants, the Lilywhites acquitted themselves very well against Derry City in last week’s curtain-raiser with new boys Steven Bradley and Mark Connolly both on the scoresheet in a 2-2 draw.
After seeing their opening game with Sligo Rovers postponed due to the bad weather, Friday’s encounter is Bohs’ first outing of the season.
A sell-out crowd is expected in Phibsborough with a large travelling support due to make the trip up the M1 and Mackey said that Dundalk were looking forward to the task at hand.
“It was a good performance last Friday and we have a good week of training behind us so we’re all looking forward to it,” he told dundalkfc.com.
“Last week’s game was the first time a lot of our players have performed in front of a crowd like that and we hope they can take belief from it because there’ll be another great atmosphere in Dalymount Park.
“Bohs didn’t play but they have been very good in pre-season and they will be ready to go. We have to be ready for that but we have prepared very well so it will be a good encounter.”
The hosts go into the new campaign after losing a host of established players over the winter with Georgie Kelly, Ross Tierney, Rob Cornwall, Andy Lyons, Keith Ward and Keith Buckley amongst those who departed.
Despite that, Mackey believes that Bohs manager Keith Long has assembled a strong panel for the season ahead with former Dundalk players, Jordan Flores and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, two of his new recruits.
“Keith and his assistant Trevor Croly are one of the longest-serving management teams in the league and they have built a very stable club there over the past few years, a club that has shown it can compete at the highest level,” said Mackey.
“They would have been disappointed to miss out on qualifying for Europe last year and they have lost players but they both have a keen eye for talent, here and abroad, and the ability to bring in quality replacements.”
Friday’s game is the first of three in the space of seven days for Dundalk and Mackey said that every player would be utilised over the busy period ahead.
“This week will create challenges for all teams but we just have to prepare for that,” he said. “We have a good squad and players who are capable of coming in and we will use the full squad over that period.
“Our priority is just to focus on the game in hand, which is Bohemians. I know it’s a cliché, but you can’t get ahead of yourself. The most important thing is to do your business and then focus on what comes next.”
Long-term absentee John Mountney remains out but Darragh Leahy is hoping to be involved after missing the game with Derry City with a knock picked up in the Jim Malone Cup. Otherwise, head coach Stephen O’Donnell has no fresh injury concerns.