Dundalk FC continue their quest for a first win of the 2024 SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division when they welcome Waterford FC to Oriel Park on Friday night.

The Lilywhites have lost three on the bounce, without scoring, including in their opening two home games, having been beaten just three times on the Carrick Road last year.

Last week, despite an improved display, they went down 1-0 to Saint Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park, Ruairí Keating’s first-half strike proving the difference.

Rooted to the bottom of the table, two points below Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk will be keen to give themselves a lift ahead of the international break, but they face a Waterford side sitting in third.

The newly-promoted Blues, who came up through the playoffs with a win over Cork City, have settled well on their return to top-flight football for the first time since 2021.

Following an opening-day draw at home to Shelbourne, Waterford have netted wins over Drogheda United – 4-1 in Louth – and St Pat’s, while suffering losses on the road to Galway
United and, last Friday, Derry City.

Keith Long’s side were well in that game up until late in the opening period but conceded three times in quick succession either side of the break as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat.

This is the first meeting of these clubs since an FAI Cup tie at the RSC in September 2022, when Waterford came out on top 3-2 to qualify for the final four.

Back in 2021, their last league date ended in a 1-0 home victory for Dundalk, Daniel Kelly the hero with a stoppage-time goal at the end of the first half. However, Waterford did win 3-1 on their other trip to Oriel Park that season, with John Martin scoring twice on a summer night.

This is the last action in the Premier Division for a fortnight, with Dundalk facing a difficult trip to leaders Shelbourne when the season resumes, while Waterford can look forward to back-to-back home games against Sligo and Shamrock Rovers.

Team News
Andy Boyle, George Shelvey, Jamie Walker and Dara Keane are doubtful but Mayowa Animasahun returns to the squad after missing the game with St Patrick’s Athletic last week due to concussion protocols.

Quotes – Stephen O’Donnell
“If you lose games, you know there’s going to be a reaction from supporters and I understand that. We know it’s up to us to get the fans back onside. Good results get fans enthusiastic and get fans engaged and until we start producing results we can’t have any complaints.

“I can totally understand the criticism of the last week but, ultimately, the only things that can get supporters engaged are victories and results and that’s ultimately my remit and we’ll be leaving no stone unturned to achieve that against Waterford on Friday night.

“We’re playing a newly-promoted team but I don’t think you’re expected to beat any team in this league this season. I don’t think the landscape is like that. I think you’ve a couple of teams at the top and then everyone else can beat each other – and rightly feel that they can beat each other. 

“We know we need a win tonight before we go into the international break. We’ve trained accordingly and we’re looking to get that win at Oriel Park on Friday.”

Quotes – Koen Oostenbrink
“I was very happy to get my first minutes for Dundalk in a competitive match last week, but I wasn’t happy with the result.  It’s just important for me to get more game time and more minutes in the legs and I’ll get better with time.

“We know it’s been a very tough start, but I think we showed some character against St Pat’s last week, especially after the Sligo and Galway results.

“It was an unnecessary result in Dublin because we didn’t have to lose the game, but we go again on Friday and we hope to get the first three points at Oriel Park.”

Match Officials
Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan
Assistants: Eoin Harte and Wayne McDonnell
Fourth Official: David Dunne