Dundalk centre-back Andy Boyle is hoping to upset a few familiar faces once again when he returns to Tolka Park to face Shelbourne on Friday night.
Boyle enjoyed a successful two-year stint in Drumcondra at the turn of the last decade. He played a leading role as the Reds won promotion from the First Division in 2011 and also helped them to that year’s FAI Cup final, where they were beaten on penalties by Sligo Rovers at the Aviva Stadium.
He made a further 22 appearances in the Premier Division as Shelbourne consolidated their top-flight status with an eighth-place finish in 2012 before making the switch to Dundalk at the end of the campaign.
The Dubliner soon showed his old employers what they were missing by scoring in league and FAI Cup wins for Stephen Kenny’s men over Shels that season and he was also on the scoresheet in Dundalk’s 2-0 win at Tolka Park before COVID hit in early 2020.
“Yeah, I’ve got a couple up there,” he smiled on Thursday afternoon. “It’s rare for me to go and get goals so when I get them I remember them!
“I have fond memories of my time at Shels. It feels like a long time ago now! We won promotion and I played in an FAI Cup final and it was a great experience. I think I was 19 playing in the Aviva which was massive for me at the time.
“Tolka Park is a nice stadium, the pitch is always good and we always bring a decent travelling support so I’m looking forward to going back up there on Friday night.”
Shels, who sit in seventh place with 19 games played, returned from the mid-season break with a 1-0 defeat against Bohemians last week, but Boyle said that Dundalk were wary of the threat that Damien Duff’s men carry.
“They’re set up well and they’re a young team, full of energy, so we know it’s going to be difficult,” said Boyle. “You need to be 100% to get something from every game in this league and it’ll be no different up there.”
His words were echoed by Lilywhites head coach Stephen O’Donnell who said that Dundalk would have to be at their best if they wanted to extend their winning run to six games on the bounce.
“We’ve had two very tough matches against Shels this season,” he said. “We drew 1-1 at Tolka Park in March and the game at Oriel Park in April was another really tough one which we won through a late goal from John Martin.
“Damien Duff is doing a very good job there. They are definitely settling into his style of play and they went on a very good run before the break, winning four games in a row. They were probably unlucky to lose last week against Bohemians and they have a lot of good individuals.
“We know it’ll be tough but we’re looking forward to it,” he added. “We’re on a good run of form, which is down to hard work, and we need to keep doing that in order to have any chance up there tomorrow night.”