Ryan O’Kane is keen to “focus on the positives” as Dundalk set their sights on a first win of the 2024 SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division when the season resumes at the end of the month.

Dundalk head into this international break with just two points from their opening five games, although there were encouraging signs in their scoreless draw with Waterford at Oriel Park on Friday night.

While they are not back in league action until the end of next week, the Lilywhites will play twice in the coming days, travelling to St Mochta’s in the PTSB Leinster Senior Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday before taking in a friendly three days later.

Those run-outs will form part of preparations for their trip to pacesetters Shelbourne, who are currently five points clear at the top, at Tolka Park on Good Friday.

And O’Kane believes that Dundalk’s performance against Waterford will “give the boys a boost” ahead of what is a double-header weekend with a Louth Derby date on Easter Monday (1 April).

“It was disappointing not to win but it was another improvement. We got a clean-sheet, obviously we need to be scoring as well, but look, we’ll just focus on the positives,” Ryan said.

Ryan O’Kane poses for a portrait during a Dundalk FC squad portraits session at Oriel Park in Dundalk. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

“I thought we were strong in attack, we just couldn’t put the ball in the net. We had a lot of chances. Waterford are a good side and I thought we were the better team on the day. We should be winning that game.

“We were very well organised. Ross (Munro) was brilliant when we needed him, and defensively we were very good too. It’s another positive to build on for the next game.

“It will give the boys a boost. The whole team played a good game. We’re going to bring that into the Shelbourne game.”

The local forward added: “We’re very happy with the squad we have. It’s about finding that rhythm and getting that goal that can kick us on.”

23 February 2024; Ryan O’Kane of Dundalk in action against Colm Horgan of Galway United during the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division match between Dundalk and Galway United at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Louth. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

O’Kane started the opening two games but has only seen around 45 minutes of action since coming off against Galway United last month.

The 20-year-old entered midway through the second half against Waterford and saw a late shot pushed away by Sam Sargeant in the visiting goal.

He is likely to be given the chance to impress again in the two games this week and his positive mindset came to the fore again when discussing being out of the first XI.

“Obviously, you want to play, but I’m happy with how I’m going and how I’m developing,” O’Kane said. “It’s on me when I get the chance to take it, it’s nobody else’s. I’ll just focus on myself and see what happens.

“I always love coming on to the pitch and playing, ever since I was a young lad. It’s my responsibility to take that chance when it comes and try to stay in the team.

“That’s football – ups and downs. You have to be strong mentally and that’s the way I’m trying to stay. Just try to keep racking up appearances, take my chance when I get it and just keep going, that’s all you can do.”