ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC
The Saints bid to keep their hopes of European qualification alive on Saturday evening as they welcome SSE Airtricity League leaders Dundalk to Richmond Park (kick-off 5.30pm).
It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for Harry Kenny’s side, with a 4-1 aggregate Europa League defeat to IFK Norrkoping followed by a 3-0 loss at Bohemians in the league last Sunday.
The Saints have been boosted ahead of Saturday’s game with the acquisition of former Republic of Ireland under-19 striker Glen McAuley, most recently of Liverpool’s under-23 squad.
The Inchicore side are hopeful that his international clearance is processed in time for this fixture.
“I'm delighted to be joining Pats and hoping that my clearance comes through as soon as possible so I can get out on the pitch playing,” he told the club’s official website upon completing his move.
“I had been in England for six years and I just thought that the best thing for me now in this stage of my career was to come home and play men's football and enjoy my football again.
“Obviously Pats are a big club, one of the biggest in Ireland and we are pushing for European football. I hope that I can come in and score some goals and play well for the team and help us achieve our goals.
“I think the League of Ireland has progressed in the years that I have been away so I hope to get playing and enjoy my football here.”
St. Pat’s can move level with fourth placed Derry City with a win over Dundalk following Derry’s 1-0 loss in Friday night’s North West derby in Finn Park.
Conor Clifford and Gary Shaw return to the fold after both missing last week’s heavy defeat to Bohs. However, defender Simon Madden is doubtful as he is recovering from illness.
Following their recent European exploits, Dundalk return to league action for the first time in over three weeks when they visit Richmond Park, a venue in which they were beaten 1-0 back in April.
After knocking Riga FC out of the Champions League on penalties, the Lilywhites secured a 1-1 draw with Qarabag in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie at Oriel Park on Wednesday night.
Even with the upcoming second leg in mind, Vinny Perth’s side will be anxious to restore their eight-point advantage at the top after second-place Shamrock Rovers put seven goals past UCD last week. The Hoops don’t play till Sunday when they travel south to take on Cork City.
“We handled them [Qarabag] quite well, the second half performance was good from us. We will learn from the game and it’s all to play for next week,” said in-form goalkeeper Gary Rogers.
“We are back in the league. They are all big games in the league. We don’t have that many left to play but we are going to Richmond to win the game.
“We want more nights like Wednesday and to get those we need to win the league and it’s massively important that we don’t take our eye off the ball.
“We are fully focused on St Patrick’s Athletic. It’s going to be a tough game; Pat’s have beaten us already in Inchicore so we will have to be at our best to get the win.”
Dundalk will be without the injured Robbie Benson for their trip to Dublin, but it’s understood that he’s 50-50 to return to fitness in time for next Wednesday night’s Champions League match in Baku.
The Lilywhites will again also be missing Jordan Flores and Stephen Folan, both of whom are injured.
Referee: Robert Hennessy.
Of the current Dundalk squad – Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare and Jamie McGrath have all played for St Pats, with the Saints having Simon Madden and Conor Clifford as former Lilywhites.
This will be 214th meeting of both clubs since their first ever encounter in the Leinster Senior Cup final in 1950. Dundalk won that match 2-1 thanks to goals from Jimmy Gilbert and Leo McDonagh.
The most recent of those matches saw Dundalk snatch a crucial 1-0 win at Oriel Park in the League of Ireland back in May thanks to a Sean Hoare (formerly of St Pats) headed goal in the 90th minute.
St Patrick’s Athletic 9/2; Draw 5/2; Dundalk 4/6
St Patrick’s Athletic 0-2 Dundalk
St Patrick’s Athletic
Doubtful: Simon Madden, Glen McAuley.
Injured: Robbie Benson, Jordan Flores, Stephen Folan.