Five hundred supporters will attend the 166th Louth Derby on Friday night when Dundalk play host to Drogheda United in a hugely important SSE Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Oriel Park.
It will be the first time since February 2020 that the attendance has surpassed the 200-mark at Oriel Park and Lilywhites head coach Vinny Perth believes the increase in numbers will give his players a huge lift against the Drogs.
“I think it has been a major disadvantage to this club over the past 18 months not being able to have our fans in the ground,” he said.
“While we’re still not close to having 3,000 people in the ground, and The Shed singing and dancing, it’s really important that the fans back us through this difficult time and get behind us whenever they can.
“They did that in Tallaght for the recent European games and I think it’s hugely important that they get behind us again in Friday’s Louth Derby.”
The Lilywhites go into the game on the back of three successive defeats. Two of those losses, at home to St Patrick’s Athletic, and away to Derry City, have left us in seventh place, three points adrift of the Drogs and just two above Waterford, who occupy the relegation playoff spot.
“People are pointing at the league table but I don’t think the position of the two clubs is relevant at this moment in time because there are still 42 points to play for,” said Perth.
“The knock-on effect of the European run has left us with a lot of sore and wounded bodies so it suits us having just one game a week and being able to concentrate on one game at a time.”
Patrick McEleney, David McMillan and Daniel Kelly all picked up injuries in the 1-0 defeat to Derry City last Sunday and the trio, along with Darragh Leahy, are all likely to miss the clash with Tim Clancy’s side.
“Patrick McEleney’s hamstring injury could be anything from two to four or even five weeks,” said Perth. “David McMillan hasn’t broken any bones but there is still a bit of ligament damage that has to be investigated and Daniel Kelly is touch and go for Friday.
“Darragh Leahy missed the game against Derry with an ankle injury but we have had some relatively good news in the sense that the medical team have got the results of the scan and they know what the issue is and are hoping to fix it. I’d imagine that Darragh would be seven to 10 days away.”
The sides have already met on three occasions this year. In pre-season, Shane Keegan and Filippo Giovagnoli were in the dugout when Dundalk returned home with the Jim Malone Cup after a 3-2 win on Boyneside.
Jim Magilton was in the Lilywhites hot seat when the sides met at Oriel Park in April, a game that was settled by Han Jeongwoo’s winner, while Perth, in his second game back in charge of the club, guided Dundalk to a 1-0 win at Head In The Game Park back in June, Michael Duffy scoring the only goal of the game.
“We have had some big Louth Derby wins at Oriel Park over the years but on Friday night we just need to get back on the bike and pick up three points,’ said Perth.
“The job that Tim Clancy and Kevin Doherty have done at Drogheda United, getting them promoted, followed by the amazing start they made to this season, should not go unnoticed, and we know we will have our work cut out against them.”
Competition: SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Date: Friday, August 20th, 2021
Venue: Oriel Park
Kick-off: 7:45 pm
Watch it: Live on LOITV.ie
Patrick McEleney, David McMillan and Darragh Leahy all miss out while Daniel Kelly is rated doubtful but new signings Cameron Yates and Sami Ben Amar are both included in the squad.
Raivis Jurkovskis Quotes
“I am looking forward to feeling the atmosphere on Friday. When we had 200 people here it was much better so to have 500 will be great.
It will be a very hard game. All derby games are tough games and both teams and supporters really want to win them. We need points and we need to get back into Europe next year so it is important for us to win this one.”
Kick-off is at 7.45pm. The match will be streamed live on LOITV. You can buy a match pass for just €5. The game will also be broadcast on LMFM.ie with Adrian Taaffe and former Dundalk skipper John Flanagan providing the commentary on both channels.
Referee: Ben Connolly
Assistant Referees: Rob Clarke and Emmet Dynam
Fourth Official: Derek Tomney