Stephen O’Donnell is expected to name a strong team when Dundalk play host to Shelbourne in the Leinster Senior Cup at Oriel Park on Friday night.
With the League of Ireland on a two-week hiatus due to internationals, O’Donnell said that the fourth-round tie had come at a good time for the Lilywhites with the likes of Peter Cherrie, Robbie Benson, and Robbie McCourt in line for some much-needed game time.
“There are lads who are coming back from injury, there are lads that probably, through no fault of their own, have had limited minutes and are banging on the door, and then there are lads that haven’t been at the club for long who could do with just staying in the flow of playing games.
“With the league on a break, it’s something for the players to look forward to. You can’t replicate a match scenario; the rhythm, the crowd, the officials, even wearing jerseys makes a big difference. Things that you can’t replicate in an 11 v 11 game.
“We had a little break last week after the Drogheda United game and after this, we have Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park next week which marks the start of a really hectic schedule so we’re going to need everybody fit and this game is a big help in regard to getting minutes into players.”
The tie will take place after Dundalk won an appeal against the Leinster FA’s decision to remove the club from the competition in February, a move that O’Donnell described as ‘farcical’.
“There’s been a lot spoken about the tie but there was never a date confirmed for it,” he said. “We offered to play on a certain date but Shelbourne declined, Shelbourne wanted to play on a certain date and we declined.
“It was farcical that we were thrown out of the competition but we were quite rightly reinstated very quickly because it’s black and white in terms of the correspondence.
“I don’t like the way it has been portrayed that we disrespected people and that we’re unorganised and we’re treating the Leinster Senior Cup as a shambles. That’s just not true.”
The winners of this evening’s tie will host Wexford FC in the quarter-finals. Dundalk last won the competition back in 2015.