Dundalk play host to fourth-placed Bohemians on Friday night knowing that a win would move them ahead of the Gypsies and keep their slim chances of European qualification alive going into the final day of the season.
Last week’s 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers, coupled with results elsewhere, has left the door ajar for Dundalk, although they would need to beat Bohs and UCD in their final two games and hope that results go their way elsewhere, including the FAI Cup final on November 12th.
“We have an outside chance,” said Lilywhites head coach Stephen O’Donnell. “We have two games left and we’re still in there pitching for Europe and for fourth place.
“We’re three points – and two goals – behind Bohs and we are two points behind Shelbourne with two games left so we’re the outsiders in a three-horse race.
“Obviously the FAI Cup final will dictate a lot but we need to win our two games and see what happens then. Even if we do that, there’s no guarantee we’ll get into Europe, but we want to be in a position where if someone slips up, we’re there to capitalise.”
Dundalk have yet to beat Bohemians this season. Declan Devine’s men have won two and drawn one of the previous three games between the sides in 2023 but O’Donnell is confident his side can finish off their home campaign with a big three points.
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“We have come out the wrong end against Bohs up until now,” he said. “We were 2-0 up at Oriel Park and it finished 2-2 and we were 2-1 up at Dalymount going into the last 10 minutes and lost 3-2.
“We lost 2-1 up there as well in the second game of the season but we’ll take confidence from last week’s win in Sligo and we want to sign off in our last home game on a positive note with the fans.
“The atmosphere against Drogheda in our last game at Oriel was unbelievable and if we can get a crowd similar to that, for what is arguably a bigger game, it will really spur the team on.”
Summer arrival Sam Durrant came off the bench to score Dundalk’s second goal against Sligo at The Showgrounds last week and the 21-year-old said he was determined to ensure that Dundalk signed off with maximum points from their final two fixtures.
“It’s a massive game against Bohs and we know what we have to do,” he said. “The aim over the next two games is simple, just win, so we need to keep pushing for fourth place and keep going for it.
“We obviously have to rely on results elsewhere to go our way but if we win our last two, it might present an opportunity and that’s all we can do.”
Team News: Apart from John Mountney, who is close to a return to full fitness, Stephen O’Donnell has a fully fit squad to choose from.