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Stephen O’Donnell said there were plenty of positives to take from Dundalk’s opening pre-season friendly of 2023 against Finn Harps at Oriel Park.

All four of O’Donnell’s new signings – Hayden Muller, Connor Malley, Cameron Elliott and Louie Annesley – made their home debut for the club while a number of the club’s academy players also featured in the scoreless draw against Dave Rogers’ Harps side.

This is what the Lilywhites head coach had to say afterwards.

Overall reaction…
“It was a good run out and we had some good passages of play. To be fair to our boys, we’ve not trained in big areas since we’ve come back in because of the sheer numbers we’ve had on the training ground. Everything’s been very small-spaced, so we’ve not had a chance to work too constructively on a full pitch. As the second half went on it, there were a lot of changes and it got a bit bitty and it was hard to get a proper flow into the game but I was happy with the work ethic. I thought Finn Harps were well organised and it wasn’t a bad pre-season game.”

On the new players…
“Hayden Muller got 90 minutes under the belt. He’s a good player. He hasn’t played 90 in quite a while, even though he’s come in from the English season, so it’s great for him to get a full game. Connor Malley played 75 minutes and I thought he showed a few glimpses of the potential he has. Louie Annesley came on a half time and he followed on from playing well in a training game last week and it was good for Hayden and Louie to play together and keep a clean sheet. Cameron Elliott also did well so there were lots of good signs. A lot of our younger ones came on and I thought, to a man, they were all excellent.”

On Patrick Hoban and Paul Doyle…
“It was really important to get Pat back for his first start since last July and Paul for his first start since we played Waterford in the FAI Cup last August. It was great to get them back on the pitch and they came through unscathed. When you look at the established, first-team players that we’re missing; Greg Sloggett, Robbie Benson, Robbie McCourt, Darragh Leahy, Daniel Kelly, John Martin and John Mountney, I think it’s very exciting to think of when they’ll all be back. I think it’s going be a really competitive squad and a really competitive team to try and get into.”

Paul Doyle of Dundalk during the pre-season friendly match with Finn Harps at Oriel Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Injury update…
“We’re hoping to have Daniel Kelly back training in the middle of next week and hopefully John Martin as well. We’ll see how they progress over the next few days. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’ll be hoping to have a lot more back as well.”

On John Mountney’s knee injury…
“John is the best character you could ever meet, from every standpoint. People that only turn up on a Friday and watch the game don’t really know the sort of impact he has within the squad. He’s a fulcrum of the group and he’s the best teammate you could ask for. We’ll wait and see what the full extent of the injury is but whether he is on the pitch or off it, John is still going to have a massive impact on our season.”

On potential new arrivals….
“We are looking for more players and I would be hoping to bring in another few but, again, these things take time. We’re not going to jump into anything. We’re trying to weigh things up and bring in the best quality. As I said previously, it’s a tricky market. In an ideal world. I’d love to have them all in now, but it’s not an ideal world. We’re still doing our upmost to get bodies in.”