The top six in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division table go head-to-head on Friday night but Stephen O’Donnell said that his only concern is what happens at Oriel Park where Dundalk entertain Derry City.

Last week’s 1-0 defeat against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium, coupled with results elsewhere, saw the Lilywhites slip into sixth place with just eight league games to play.

With league leaders Shamrock Rovers playing host to fourth-placed Bohemians, and fifth-placed Shelbourne welcoming second-placed St Patrick’s Athletic to Tolka Park, the Lilyhites have an immediate opportunity to make up ground on some of the teams above them.

O’Donnell, however, said he wasn’t bothered by what others were doing and said that his own team’s performances would ultimately dictate where they end up at the end of the season.

“We just need to focus on ourselves, put in a good performance and see where that puts us at 10 o’clock on Friday night. Let the others battle it out as well,” he said on Thursday.

“Last week’s defeat was frustrating but after watching it back, there were lots of positives that we could take out of it and we’d like to carry a lot of the performance into Friday night. If we do that, then it goes without saying that we’ll be in a healthier position than where we started the night.”

Dundalk have a brilliant home record against the Candystripes. Since 2013, Derry have won just two league games at Oriel Park, in 2013 and 2021, and O’Donnell said his players were confident of maintaining that run against Ruaidhri Higgins’s side.


“They have good players dotted all around the park, they have a good manager and it’s going to be another tight game but we’re looking forward to it,” said O’Donnell.

“We know we need to be on it and alert at all times because they have good pace and quality in the final third. They were knocked out of Europe and the FAI Cup recently when they should have probably gone through in both competitions and they created quite a few chances in a ding-dong game against Bohs last week.

“They have big aspirations to win the league but we’ll be ready. We’re training well and we’re working towards a specific goal. There is a clarity in what we’re doing which is important going forward.”

Friday’s game is followed by the international break and Archie Davies, who has featured more than any other outfield Dundalk player this season, said the Lilywhites were determined to sign off with a win.

“We still have to play everyone around us so there’s a lot of points to play for and there’s going to be points dropped here and there.

“I keep saying it but we just have to be consistent so that when people above us do drop points, as will potentially happen on Friday night, we’re there to capitalise.”

Team News: Andy Boyle is doubtful after picking up a knock in training but Ryan O’Kane is back in contention after missing last week’s game with Shamrock Rovers with a shin injury. John Mountney and Keith Ward are both making good progress from their respective knee injuries.