Dundalk are on the road again aiming to continue their recent revival when they take on SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division leaders Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).



The Lilywhites have taken seven points from the last 12 available to leapfrog neighbours Drogheda United into ninth, having trailed their Louth rivals by six points at the bottom of the table just three weeks ago.

Four points against title contenders Shamrock Rovers and Derry City at Oriel Park was added to on Bank Holiday Monday with Dundalk’s first away win of the campaign as they put in an impressive performance to beat Stephen Kenny’s St Patrick’s Athletic 3-2 at Richmond Park.

Jamie Gullan’s fourth and fifth goals of the year came either side of Ryan O’Kane’s strike in an unforgettable opening 22 minutes, as Dundalk lifted themselves off the foot of the standings for the first time since March 4th.

Now, Dundalk return to the capital hoping to record back-to-back victories for the first time since the end of last season, while they are chasing a first clean-sheet outside of Oriel Park in almost eight months.

This is the first of two remaining games for Jon Daly’s men before the midseason break, with Thursday nights returning to the Carrick Road next week for what will be a revenge mission against Sligo Rovers, but for now the focus is on Shels who fell to the Bit O’Red last Friday.

Damien Duff’s side were stunned by a rejuvenated Sligo who scored through Kailin Barlow and Fabrice Hartmann to secure a 2-1 win at Tolka Park and move themselves away from danger, as Shelbourne’s eight-match unbeaten run ended with just a third defeat in their 20th game.

The Reds had no opportunity to immediately bounce back from that as their Bank Holiday date with Bohemians was postponed due to the Gypsies’ international call-ups, with Duff instead using the time to watch a brilliant Dundalk display in Inchicore.

Prior to Monday, Dundalk had lost seven of their previous eight away games. But they have shown a taste for scoring on the road having now netted on six of their last eight trips, and they will travel with confidence as they go in search of a first win at Tolka Park in over four years.

Shelbourne are two points ahead of Derry at the top of the table, with a game in hand, and six in front of Shamrock Rovers who are again without a fixture this weekend. Shels recently rattled off three huge wins to shoot clear at the summit before their run was halted by Sligo.

However, despite their position in the table, the Drumcondra outfit have won just two of their last seven games on their own turf, including a draw with Drogheda, and Dundalk will hope to take at least a point to stay off the bottom, with St Pat’s travelling to Boyneside at the same time.

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4209473024631
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102037102034-1416

This is the third meeting of the teams this season. At Tolka Park in late March, a Liam Burt strike and Hayden Muller own-goal gave Shels a 2-1 win, in which Robbie Benson scored an injury-time consolation, before they played out a scoreless draw in Louth in early May in one of Noel King’s four matches in charge.

Dundalk have not beaten Shels since March 2023. They are also winless in their last five games at Tolka Park, with three draws before losing on their last two trips. The Lilywhites’ last success there was in February 2020 when Andy Boyle and Patrick Hoban scored first-half goals to come out on top 2-1 in what was their first away match of that season.

Team News
Robbie Benson is back in contention but Robbie Mahon, Koen Oostenbrink and Dara Keane are injured while Louie Annesley is on international duty with Gibraltar. Ciaran McGuckin has returned to Rotherham United following the end of his loan deal.

Quotes – Jon Daly
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I genuinely wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t feel there was quality in the group. I didn’t know the players before I took the job so you’re only getting to know them and I have to say the characters that are in the changing room are fantastic.

“They’re certainly not a team that should be where they are, but they are. They’re there because they haven’t got results and it’s important now that we try to back Monday’s win up on Friday away to Shels, who are a really good side. We need to try to get something there too.

“We have a fantastic defensive record at home, seven clean-sheets in a row, so it’s trying to bring that mentality when we go away from home.”

Quotes – Ryan O’Kane
“I think we’re in a false position. Obviously, a few of the performances at the start of the season, like Sligo and Galway, were unacceptable.

“After that, I think some of our performances have been brilliant and we’ve just been very unlucky, away to Sligo, home to Pat’s and different games like that, where we’ve got draws. Maybe that bit of luck, like my goal on Monday – in recent weeks, that hasn’t went for us.

“It gives us a boost, we’re off the bottom. It’s looking up now, that’s our mentality – focus on climbing up that table. There’s still half a season to go, there’s so much to play for, and obviously a Cup run as well. It’s a long season, you just don’t know what can happen.

“We’re after beating a top team, the Cup winners, away from home, and got a good result against Derry who have been challenging for the title for the past three years. We can beat anyone on our day.

“Shels are obviously a top team, they’re top of the table for a reason. They’re really organised. We have to go up there and play the way we did in the last two games. I think if we bring that, we have every chance of coming out with three points.”

Match Officials
Referee: Damien MacGraith
Assistants: Robert Clarke & Dermot Broughton
Fourth Official: Gavin Colfer