Dundalk will receive the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division trophy at the end of what is their last home match of the season against managerless Sligo Rovers on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Lilywhites have already sealed their fourth league title in five years under Stephen Kenny, thanks to Patrick Hoban’s last-gasp equaliser against St Patrick’s Athletic two weeks ago at Oriel Park.
A remarkable season for Kenny’s side continued last week in Waterford with what was a club record 26th league win of the campaign.
The same match saw Dundalk surpass a League of Ireland record for goals scored in a single season (79) thanks to strikes from both Hoban and Ronan Murray.
“It feels great to be crowned champions of Ireland, especially after last season,” said Patrick McEleney, who has settled nicely since returning to the club from England in the summer.
“It was a massive disappointment not to win the league last year because as a club we are judged on silverware
“As a team we have talk about everything, what we can win and what records we can break. It’s a team full of winners who want to be the best.
“I’ve loved every minute since I’ve come back. Everyone at the club have been great to me and my family and I feel I owe them for that.”
McEleney insists that, despite the league already being wrapped up, the Lilywhites wish to keep up the winning mentality ahead of the FAI Cup final against Cork City in just over two weeks’ time.
“The fans have been outstanding. It would be great to have a packed Oriel Park for Friday to see us lift the trophy, then the big one at the Aviva Stadium on the 4th November. I have no doubt they will be brilliant then again.
“We are in good form at the minute and it won’t be easy on Friday night but we are confident. Sligo are always difficult to play against and they have changed manager so it’ll be tough.
“We still have a lot to play for this season and we have the records in our mind so we want to go get them.
“We have two games left and we are focused on those and we want to win as many points as we can. That’s our aim and hopefully we can get those over the next two weeks.”
Dundalk welcome back Daniel Cleary and Chris Shields, who both missed the win in Waterford through suspension, while Jamie McGrath returns from duty with the Republic of Ireland under-21s.
Club captain Stephen O’Donnell, who hasn’t featured since May due to a broken leg, played 45 minutes in Monday night’s friendly with Newry City but is not yet ready for competitive action.
Sligo come into this fixture managerless following the dismissal of Gerard Lyttle, who guided the club to just 17 wins from his 56 league matches in charge since succeeding Dave Robertson in April 2017.
A miserable season was compounded with defeat at Motherwell Colts in the Irn-Bru Cup on Saturday afternoon as the Bit O’Red remain third from bottom in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
“The club would like to place on record our thanks to Gerard for his professionalism, dedication and commitment in his time at the club,” said chairman Martin Heraghty in a club statement on Tuesday.
“In particular we wish to acknowledge the number of young players that made their first appearances for Sligo Rovers under Gerard’s management.
“Their progress and development is a testament to his hard work. We would like to wish Gerard every success in the future.”
Under-19s manager Brian Dorrian has been put in charge on an interim basis for the final three matches of the season, starting with a visit to the newly-crowned champions on Friday night.
Long-term absentee Gary Boylan will miss those remaining three matches with the anterior cruciate ligament which has kept him out since June but Lee-J Lynch should return to the squad following illness.
Referee: Rob Rogers.
A win for Dundalk would see them break a League of Ireland record for number of points (86) picked up in a single season. The current record is held by the Bohemians side that finished on 85 points in 2008.
This will be the 229th competitive meeting between Dundalk and Sligo Rovers. The Lilywhites have emerged victorious on 106 of those occasions, while Sligo have won 71 times since the first encounter in 1934.
Gary Rogers and Stephen Folan are the only players from either side to have played for both clubs.
Rogers kept goal more than 100 times for the Bit O’Red, while Folan also had a spell at the Showgrounds in 2015.
Dundalk 1/4; Draw 4/1; Sligo Rovers 8/1
Dundalk 3 – 0 Sligo Rovers
Injured: Stephen O’Donnell, Karolis Chvedukas.
Injured: Gary Boylan.