Dundalk FC manager Noel King spoke to Gavin McLaughlin ahead of Friday night’s clash with SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division leaders Shelbourne at Oriel Park.

GMCL: Noel, I’m sure the message this week has just been keep it going from last Friday night?
NK: Well, if we can, it would be fantastic because it was a very good performance from the whole group against Bohemians, even the players who came on and it’d be great if we can repeat the same thing against Shelbourne.

GMCL: It’s amazing what a win can do. The whole town was lifted over the weekend and you can even see the sun’s out at Oriel. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence, but everybody’s in good form!
NK: Yeah, well that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? You wake up on Mondays or you wake up the day after the match and how you feel depends on the result. That’s the reality for people who love football and are involved in it.

GMCL: From your own point of view, are you glad the first game’s out of the way now?
NK: No, not really. It’s done and we can’t go back. You have to go forward and we have to make sure that we turn in a good performance again. It’s a tough match against Shels, who are top of the table, and on paper they’re supposed to beat us, but let’s hope we can defy the odds again.

GMCL: We played them at Tolka Park a couple of weeks ago and there wasn’t much in the game, as is the case in most games in the league this season.
NK: Yeah, it’s very tight and it’s highly competitive. All of the teams are operating very highly, fitness wise, and you get nothing easy but that’s the norm of football and that’s the way we like it.

Noel King and Damien Duff, pictured at the launch of the SSE Airtricity Premier & First Division and Women’s National League season in January 2022. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

GMCL: You obviously have strong links with Shels. Are you looking forward to going up against them on Friday night?
NK: I have a long tradition with a few people! No, of course I am and, from a personal point of view, I’d like to win but that doesn’t come into the equation. It’s about the boys. They have to look after themselves and try and get something out of the game, which is hopefully three points.

GMCL: Damien Duff’s arrival at Tolka Park has really given the League of Ireland a massive boost. Would you have had much interaction with him when you were at Shelbourne’s women’s team?
NK: Not too much because he was busy and I was busy but we obviously respect each other and if he was there, I’d always say hello. He’s done great things for the League of Ireland. He gets the publicity, he makes his comments, he highlights the game and the more the game is highlighted in a positive way, the better. So I think he’s been good for us all.

GMCL: Shels have been difficult to beat for the last couple of years and they’ve added real quality in attacking areas this season…
NK: They’re not sitting top of the league because they’re a poor team. They’re obviously trying to catch the so-called superpowers and Damien is is making progress and you have to give him full credit for that.

GMCL: It was brilliant to win and one of the other major positives was the fact we kept a clean sheet, our fourth in a row at Oriel Park. Our home form will have a massive bearing on where we finish up.
NK: Yes and the crowd certainly got involved last week. They were pensive at the start and I knew that was going to happen but the boys started great. They played some fantastic football, really attack minded, and it was easy to get behind but the fact that they did get behind them throughout was really encouraging.

GMCL: It’s the start of another busy period with three games in seven days and a lot can change over the space of the next week.
NK: Well, I can only concentrate on the first game and if you want to talk to me after that, and we get a positive result, I’ll talk as long as you like about the other team we play on Monday!