The first series of fixtures in this year’s SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division campaign comes to a close on Easter Monday when Dundalk make the trip to Turner’s Cross to face Cork City for the first time since 2020.
During a five-year period between 2014 and 2018, the two clubs duked it out on an annual basis in one of the fiercest rivalries the League of Ireland has ever seen.
In each of Dundalk’s four title-winning seasons during that spell, Cork City finished as runners-up with the roles reversed in 2017. For good measure, Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk and John Caulfield’s Cork City also met in four consecutive FAI Cup finals, with two wins apiece.
After showing signs of fizzling out in 2019, the hostilities came to an end in 2020 when the Leesiders were relegated but after winning promotion last season, a fixture that evokes special memories in both camps makes a welcome return to the League of Ireland calendar.
Both sides go into the game looking for some much-needed Eater cheer. Second from bottom Cork, who were beaten 4-0 by St Patrick’s Athletic in Dublin on Friday night, have not won a game since early March when they picked up their only league victory of the season to date against UCD.
Dundalk are also hoping to get back on track following back-to-back home defeats against Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, a run of results that leaves Stephen O’Donnell’s men occupying sixth place in what is already a very congested league table.
The last competitive meeting between the sides took place at Turner’s Cross in October 2020 when a brace from Patrick Hoban secured Dundalk a 2-0 win while a Cameron Elliott goal settled a pre-season friendly at Abbottstown in early January.
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Quotes – Stephen O’Donnell
“It’s always a tough game at Turner’s Cross, no matter what Cork’s form is like, but it’s good to get back on the horse so quickly after a defeat. It would’ve been a sore one to sit on the Sligo result for a week so we have a good opportunity now on Monday to go down there and give a performance.
“We’ve had two setbacks in our last two games so this spell is a challenge for us all. When everything’s plain sailing, it’s easy to be a big personality and to play well or coach well and be full of beans but the real sign of any person is when they meet setbacks.
“We weren’t silly enough or naive enough to think we weren’t going to have setbacks but it’s how you react to it. That’s what makes you as a person and, in my mind, there’s no question how we’ll react to it.”
Robbie Benson is suspended, John Mountney and Louie Annesley are out and Cameron Elliott and Paul Doyle are doubtful. Patrick Hoban is making good progress after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Assistants: Eoin Harte and Ray Mathews.
Fourth Official: John Foskin.
Tickets are now available online.
There will be pre-match, in-game and post-match updates across the club’s official social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The match will also be broadcast on LMFM and will be streamed live on LOITV for just €7.
The Lilywhite Lounge and Enda McGill Suite will also be open on Easter Monday at 4pm and will stream the game live at 5pm. Cash only in both bars.