Stephen O’Donnell says that the FAI’s decision to penalise Sligo Rovers and award Dundalk three valuable league points would make no difference to his side’s preparations for Friday night’s clash with UCD at Belfield.
On Wednesday, the FAI confirmed that Sligo had been docked three points for fielding an ineligible player in their 2-0 win over Dundalk at The Showgrounds on August 29th.
Dundalk were subsequently awarded a 3-0 victory which takes them back in front of Derry City and leaves them just three points adrift of SSE Airtricity League leaders Shamrock Rovers, albeit with two extra games played.
“It was very unexpected but that’s the way it goes,” was O’Donnell’s assessment of the FAI’s decision. “From our point of view, we’ve got a little bit of fortune but we want to be in control of what we do ourselves and we want everything to be a consequence of what we do on the pitch.
“It doesn’t change anything for us. It obviously gives us more points but it doesn’t change our mindset. No matter where we are in the league table, we’ll always approach games in the same vein so it doesn’t change one iota about how we’ll be going to Belfield.
“When you look back at the Sligo game in question, I think it was setting itself up for us to go and have it,” he added. “I liked the position we were in up until Darragh Leahy’s red card. Having him sent off was very unlucky but we’ve definitely had something go our way this week.
👏🏻 Congratulations to Ryan O'Kane whose brilliant strike against Wexford FC at Ferrycarrig Park has been named as the Dundalk FC Goal of the Month for August, sponsored by Blackstone Motors.#BackedByBlackstone @OfficialBSM_1 pic.twitter.com/2cqwDGOXnE
— Dundalk FC (@DundalkFC) September 7, 2022
“They say it’s up to you to create your own fortune and that’s what we’ll be looking to do on Friday night.”
Dundalk go into the game with Andy Myler’s side on the back of a scoreless draw with Shelbourne at Casey’s Field last Friday night, a result, if not a performance, that left the Dundalk head coach frustrated.
“I thought there were lots of positives from it,” said O’Donnell. “We didn’t score but the only thing we probably lacked was that cutting edge. We had a lot of possession and good build-up play and we controlled the game after 20 minutes or so. We need to carry that control and dominance into Friday night and turn them into chances and goals.”
This will be the fourth and final meeting between Dundalk and the Students this season. The Lilywhites enjoyed two comfortable wins at Casey’s Field but the first game at the UCD Bowl in May ended in a hard-fought 2-2 draw and O’Donnell said he was expecting another tough assignment on Friday.
“Even though they’re bottom of the table, they’ve been very competitive in every game,” he said. “They gave Derry lots of it last week, in the first half especially, and had some big opportunities before they conceded two in the second half.
“They’re a tough side and it’ll be no different on Friday. It’s up to us to bring our energy and intensity to it.”