Stephen O’Donnell says he is happy with how his squad is taking shape ahead of the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division opener against Shamrock Rovers on February 16th.

The Lilywhites slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Drogheda United in the Jim Malone/Leinster Senior Cup on Friday night but speaking afterwards, O’Donnell said that getting minutes into his players’ legs ahead of the trip to Tallaght was his sole concern.

“It wasn’t about the goals or the result. There was a tinge of disappointment that we conceded a last-minute goal but from an overall perspective, it was the first chance for a lot of players to get 90 minutes under their belts,” he said.

“We probably fatigued a bit as we went into the latter stages and there are lots of things to work on,” he added. “I was happy with some aspects where we looked a threat and there were some parts where we can tidy up but I’d expect that.

“We have quite a few players to come back and we’ll be a bit different to what we were tonight in a couple of weeks against Rovers.”

O’Donnell explained that Cameron Elliott (hamstring) and Archie Davies (groin) were both withdrawn early as a precautionary measure while Ciaran McGuckin, who arrived 24 hours earlier, sat the game out as his international clearance did not come through before the game.

Dundalk goalkeeper Ross Munro during the PTSB Leinster Senior Cup / Malone Cup match with Drogheda United at Oriel Park. Top: Jamie Gullan. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Another new striker, Jamie Gullan, was an unused substitute but Eoin Kenny came off the bench to score his first goal for the club and O’Donnell said he was happy with the forwards at his disposal.

“You definitely need to have good options at the top of the pitch,” he said. “You could see that with Cami going off. We have Ciaran, Jamie and Eoin took his goal very well.”

Ryan O’Kane missed the game with flu while O’Donnell is hopeful that Sam Durrant, Dara Keane and John Mountney will get some minutes into their legs in a behind-closed-doors friendly with UCD in Dublin on Tuesday evening.

Dundalk were scheduled to play Bohemians in the final group game of the Leinster Senior Cup on Bank Holiday Monday but O’Donnell said that the club’s U20 side will contest the fixture after the Gypsies expressed a wish for their academy team to do likewise.

O’Donnell also sent his best wishes to Senan Mullen and Greg Sloggett whose departures from the club to Torino and Cheltenham Town were confirmed before the game.

“I spoke to Senan on Thursday and I’m delighted for him. He was great for us, a really good character, and what an adventure that is for an 18-year-old.

“Likewise with Greg,” he added. “His personal life, and being close to his girlfriend, was a factor in that and I’m delighted that he will be able to move closer to Chloe.”