Madden Eyeing “Perfect” Belated Celebration
Dundalk FC captain Simon Madden is hoping to celebrate his birthday belatedly this weekend by defeating his former club Shamrock Rovers, who visit Oriel Park on May Bank Holiday Monday afternoon (kick-off 2pm). The Tallaght-born right-back, who is the only player yet to miss a second of the Lilywhites’ 17 competitive matches this year, turns 23 on Sunday, but with Ian Foster’s Code of Conduct, he says food will be the height of his celebrations, though he is looking forward to what he has described as “the perfect game” against the current champions.
And Maddy is hopeful that Dundalk can repeat last year’s two Oriel Park wins over the early-season pacesetters, despite their ongoing injury problems. “I think it’s going to be the perfect game,” Simon told dundalkfc.com. “We’re going to have to play at our best and everyone is going to have to give everything they’ve got to get a result. Shamrock Rovers are the champions, but I think it’s the best game we could have hoped for at this stage. The boys should all be up for it, there should be a good atmosphere and hopefully it will be a good game.” Asked if it would be a quiet birthday on Sunday, he admitted: “It will, yeah. I think we’ll just have a meal at home, because we’re not allowed out on Licensed Premises (72 hours before a game)! After Monday, we’ll probably go out. We’ll see what happens, but it will be quiet enough, yeah.”
Friday’s scoreless draw with Bray Wanderers extended the Louth club’s unbeaten league run at Oriel Park to five games as they boast the only remaining unbeaten home record in the Premier Division, and Madden is looking to continue that on Monday. “We’re going into the game to win it,” he said when asked if he would take a point to keep that momentum at the border venue going. “We never go into a game looking for a draw, but, at the same time, we want to stay unbeaten at home as long as we can, and hopefully we can do that.” Commenting on his side’s haul of 12 points from the opening round of games, where 27 were on offer, Simon said: “I’m not sure. There were a couple of games where we could have picked up three points, especially St. Pat’s away when we were 2-0 up. We really should have got three there, and against Bohs at home we should have had a penalty and won that game. If you look at that, it’s kind of a disappointment, but we’ll take 12 points.
“I thought it was a tough game,” he added, reflecting on the stalemate with the Seagulls. “I thought Bray set out their stall not to be beaten. They packed the midfield and it was hard to break through them, and when we played it over the top they always seemed to get a head to it. Overall, I thought we played well but not well enough to snatch it.” Madden admitted that Dundalk missed Daniel Kearns, who was absent for the first time this year after withdrawing before kick-off with suspected pleurisy. “Obviously, Daniel is a great player,” the young defender said. “We’ll always miss somebody like that. But I thought Johnny Breen came in and did a good job, and Quigs (Mark Quigley) moved out to the right and did his best. That’s what is going to happen in games; your best players aren’t going to be able to play all the time. I thought Johnny did well when he came in and did what was asked of him.
“It’s a clean sheet as well, which is a positive to take out of the game” Maddy added, pointing to just Dundalk’s third clean sheet of the year. “It’s nice for defenders especially. That’s what we want, but it would have been nice to nick one at the other end.” Dundalk will be quickly back in action against Rovers when the sides go head-to-head in the Setanta Sports Cup final at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday 14 May. Madden grew up just a five-minute walk from the Dublin 24 venue and spent 18 months there as a player between July 2008 and November 2009. The Lilywhites have won the draw of lots for home club, meaning they will have use of the home dressing room and wear their famous Black & White. “I’m not sure; I think they’re the same size,” Madden said when asked if there was any difference in the two dressing rooms, having been part of Rovers’ first ever season in their new ground. “I don’t think it really matters. It won’t make a difference to us; maybe it will for them. We might have a psychological edge, but we have no views on it, really.”
Speaking on Saturday evening, Foster gave his current team news for the game. Dundalk will again be without Greg Bolger (thigh), Stephen Maher (groin) and Eoghan Osborne (broken leg). Shane Guthrie (blurred vision & concussion) and Dean Bennett (hamstring) are rated “very doubtful”. Hawkins (hamstring), Kearns (pleurisy) and Jason Byrne (Achilles) are doubtful and “will be assessed” on Sunday morning when the squad complete their preparations. Foster has no suspension worries.