Dundalk Head Coach Stephen O’Donnell is anticipating a difficult 170th Louth Derby on Friday night as his troops travel to Head in the Game Park.
The Lilywhites travel up the M1 are unbeaten in their last ten and have won two of their last three away from home as they look to close the gap on Shamrock Rovers who are in European action this week.
This is one of the games in hand that Dundalk have on the Hoops as they bid to claw back a 10-point deficit and they travel to a venue where they have suffered one of only two losses in 2022.
Dean Williams scored from the spot back in March to give the Boynesiders all three points in a narrow encounter.
A brace from Darragh Leahy and a goal each from Patrick Hoban and John Martin avenged that loss in April in a 4-1 win.
O’Donnell though is pleased with the application of his players and feels that they are well prepared to face Kevin Doherty’s charges.
“We have had a good training week. We are unbeaten in the last ten – eight wins and two draws. We have only lost two of our 21 matches which is great form for any team.
“We have been hard to beat and have been in brilliant form the past few months and that is something we want to continue.
“One of those losses has been in Drogheda so we don’t need any reminder of how difficult it will be going there. “
Last week Dundalk continued their fine home form – making it eight wins on the bounce at Oriel – with a 3-0 win against UCD.
That meant they bounced back from a 0-0 draw against Shelbourne after the midseason break and the Galway native was pleased with the win to extend their home comforts.
“We had to be patient last week and it was a good win for us. We knew the kind of game that it was going to be. UCD sat in and only had one shot on goal.
“It keeps our good form going at home and we were good at times I thought and thoroughly deserved the win on the night. “
The results of recent weeks mean that the Lilywhites are in good form going to Drogheda for the 100th league meeting of the sides.
The Head Coach is warning against complacency though and is looking forward to what will be a difficult clash.
“We have beaten Drogheda at Oriel so we are looking forward to the game. We know that it is going to be a difficult one for us but we have prepared well.
“The lads are all in good spirits and have been training well – like they have been since the start of the season. That’s all you can ask for.
“We will give our best tomorrow and see where it takes us.”
Attacker Keith Ward feels the same. The Dubliner knows what to expect in Drogheda and what Derby matches are all about however is confident that his side can take victory and bragging rights.
“Last week was good for us to get back on track with the win. It was so important to us to ensure that we keep the form that we had in the first half of the season, we want to carry on.
First half we could have been a bit better but it helped us for the second half. We were delighted for Davy (McMillan) scoring – he got us off the mark and it opened things up for us. It was a good three points but we want to build on it again.
“I have played in so many Louth Derbies in my three stints here at the club and I have enjoyed them. They are games to look forward to for both us as players and the fans too. There will be a good crowd there and there’s always a good atmosphere at their place.
“We were disappointed not to win up there in March but we are a better team now. I wouldn’t say we are different but we have improved and kicked on.
We have been in great form and we are confident going there but we go there knowing that it’s going to be tough. They have good experienced players and good young players.
“They have shown they can beat anyone so we are wary of what they can do but we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can get the win. “
In terms of team news, the squad will be similar to last week although a number of players will be given every chance to prove their fitness ahead of kick-off.
The match will be live on LOITV.ie with the match costing just €7. Also on LMFM radio and tickets can be purchased here.