Drogheda United -v- DundalkThu, Aug 30 2012
Drogheda United go into the Louth derby this weekend in second place in the Airtricity League table. A fine season has seen them stay as the nearest challengers to leaders Sligo Rovers. As unexpected as it is, they are there on merit and a win against their local rivals would see them remain in second place and cut the gap at the top to six points. Despite a slight dip in form, losing to Cork City and Shamrock Rovers recently, the Drogs will be confident of returning to winning ways at Hunky Dorys Park on Friday evening.
For the match itself, the Boynesiders will have to plan without the injured Alan McNally who will be out for another two weeks while Gavin Brennan is absent through suspension. Other than that, the home side will be at almost full strength and they will be aiming to build on their FAI Cup win from last week and get back on track.
Speaking ahead of the match, Drogheda United manager Mick Cooke isn’t underestimating the importance of the match and feels we could be in for a classic.
“This game is massively important for both us and Dundalk, but for different reasons. We are looking to stay in the top four and they will want to move off the bottom, so it has all the hallmarks of being a classic Louth derby.
“Darius has done a good job at Dundalk, but they are still looking for their first league win and they will beconfident after putting four past Malahide in the cup.”
Dundalk picked up only their second win in three months last week against Malahide United and they will be hoping that will act as a platform to having a good end of season and beat the drop. They haven’t won in the league since late May, however.
Yet the border club have been picking up improved results recently, with several good draws, but the have fallen to the bottom of the table. With the threat of a relegation playoff very real in the minds of supporters, wins are needed at this stage of the season and they will be hoping that they can start this weekend in the Louth derby.
The Lilywhites will be without young midfielder Conor McDonald and defender Robbie Gaul though, while Liam Burns may return as he has returned to training earlier this week.
Paul Whelan will return as he was cup-tied last week while Stephen Maher has finally been cleared to make his second coming following weeks of frustration with registration. Dundalk are hoping to add a striker to the squad before the start of the match but it is unclear whether it will go through in time.
Speaking ahead of the game, interim manager Darius Kierans praised a Drogheda side he is quite familiar with before declaring that he is confident of getting a result out of the fixture.
“They’re in the final of one cup, the quarter-final in another and they’re second in the league. They are great at grinding out results and have a great home record.
“Best of luck to them, but all the games between us this year have been tight and there’s no doubt we can get points down there.”
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Drogheda United are looking for their first league victory against Dundalk at Hunky Dorys Park since a 1-0 win in January 1998. Drogheda did manage a home victory in the FAI Cup tie between the sides back in 2004 coming out on top with a 3-2 win.
Drogheda United have six former Dundalk players in their 2012 squad – Tiarnan Mulvenna, Johnny Breen, Paul Crowley, Shane Grimes, Stephen Quigley, Peter Hynes, Declan O’Brien and Chris Kerr. Dundalk have four former Drogs in their squad – Eoghan Osbourne, William Woods, Robbie Gaul and Mark O’Brien.
Drogheda United have won only two of the 14 league meetings since Dundalk returned to the Premier League in 2009. Both have been 2-1 wins at Oriel Park in June of 2011 and June of this year.
Drogheda United 1/2; Draw 3/1; Dundalk 9/2.
Both sides need the points for very different reasons. Dundalk have been improving in recent weeks but Drogheda still look strong, an entertaining score draw: 1-1.
Drogheda United Injury News: Alan McNally.
Drogheda United Suspension News: Gavin Brennan.
Dundalk Injury News: Conor McDonald, Robbie Gaul, Liam Burns(doubtful).
Dundalk Suspension News: None.