One of the main positives from the 1-1 draw with UCD at Oriel Park on the opening night of the 2023 League of Ireland season was the return of Daniel Kelly.

The 26-year-old, who underwent surgery to repair a long-standing hamstring injury over the winter, came off the bench to make his first appearance since last August and speaking to afterwards, he said he was delighted to be back on the pitch.

“I wanted to come back in on a win but for myself it was great to be back out there and competing,” he said. “I was delighted to be back on the pitch after so long out.

“I worked hard during pre-season to get back and I am just happy to be fit again. I am feeling good and hopefully I can stay injury free and get a run of games now.”

Kelly came on seven minutes after Ciaran Behan had pulled UCD level with a free-kick and he said Dundalk were annoyed that they had failed to hold onto the first-half lead given to them by John Martin

“It was disappointing not to get the win that we wanted,” he said. “We managed to get in front at half time and we probably should have kicked on after the break but we didn’t.

“It was a great free-kick, to be fair to Behan, but we were disappointed to concede. It was just a frustrating night for us, we wanted to start the season with a win but it wasn’t to be.”

Next up for Dundalk is a trip to Phibsborough next week for our first away trip of the season and Kelly is anticipating a tough match against his old club, who opened their season with a 2-1 win against Cork City at Turner’s Cross.

“It’s always a difficult game in Dalymount and they have the new Mono Stand now which will make the atmosphere even better. They won on their opener as well so they will be going in on a high.

“We will train properly over the week and be ready to go there on Friday. We are looking forward to it, our away form needs to be good from the start this year and next week is the perfect opportunity to do that.”