Lewis Macari is hoping to wave goodbye to Casey’s Field on Friday night after helping Dundalk to a win that would edge the Lilywhites closer to European football next season.
Macari will return to his parent club Stoke City when his loan deal expires after the final league game of the season against Derry City on Sunday week.
It means that Friday’s clash with Bohemians is set to be his last in front of the home supporters and he is hoping to make his final appearance on the Carrick Road a memorable one!
“I’ve loved playing at Oriel. The crowd is always brilliant and The Shed is always bouncing,” he said. “It’ll be a little bit sad as it’s my last game here but hopefully I can help us finish off with a win and try and help the team secure a place in Europe.
“I’ve always said from the start that I’d love to score at Oriel so I’ve got one more game do it!”
Macari said he would go home with special memories from his time at Dundalk. The standout moments? His first appearance for the club in the 2-2 draw with Derry City on the opening day of the season and the 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers in the summer.
“I’ll always remember that first game against Derry and the roar around the ground when the first goal went in,” he said. “It was something I had never experienced before.
“The highlight was that win over Rovers,” he added. “The celebrations when we scored, and then after the game, was unbelievable. I’ll always remember the last 10 minutes. We weren’t under massive pressure but the fans kept singing and pulled us through it.”
The defender has featured in all but two of Dundalk’s 32 league games thus far and believes he will return to Stoke ‘as a much better player and a better person.’
“One of the reasons that Stoke sent me over here was to get experience and I’ve definitely done that,” he said. “I can’t fault the gaffer because he has played me in almost every game. I’ve played in different positions, different venues, and I feel that I’ve improved a lot.
“Off the field, I think I’ve really grown up,” he added. “I live with Greg Sloggett, Sam Bone and John Martin and they’ve really helped me. I came over not knowing how to cook, wash clothes or make my bed but I can do those things for myself now! I’ll go back home and they won’t know what to do with me,” he laughed
The 20-year-old will come up against some familiar faces on Friday night. Bohemians striker Ethon Varian, who scored in their 2-2 draw with Finn Harps last week, and full-back Max Murphy were both teammates of Macari in the underage set-up at Stoke.
“I played with Ethon for two or three years at Stoke, mainly in the U18 team, and Max was there for a couple of years as well,” he said.
“Ethon started against us at Dalymount Park earlier in the year and he’s always been a handful up front. He works hard but hopefully, we can keep him quiet.“
That 2-2 draw with Harps was new manager Declan Devine’s first game in charge of the Gypsies and Macari said Dundalk were wary of a Bohemians ‘bounce’.
“They don’t have much to play for league wise but they’ll be playing for places and they’ll want to make a good impression on their new manager. We just have to make sure we’re up for it and we match them.”
Ground tickets for Friday night’s game are available online. Stand tickets are available from the office while a sales link has been sent out to fans who have previously bought tickets online.