With just ten fixtures remaining, Dundalk hope to go one step closer to another SSE Airtricity League title when they welcome bottom-of-the-table UCD to Oriel Park on Monday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
In fact, the Lilywhites are still on course for what would be an historic treble after knocking Derry City – the only other club to achieve the treble – out of the FAI Cup after extra-time on Friday night.
Dundalk, who will also face Derry in the EA Sports Cup final in September, took the lead twice through Daniel Kelly and Daniel Cleary only for the Candystripes to hit back on both occasions.
Vinny Perth’s side booked their place in the last-eight of the FAI Cup for the ninth year running just three minutes before what would have been a penalty shoot-out thanks a header from Georgie Kelly.
Now just seven wins from mathematically clinching a fifth league championship in six years, Dundalk face the unusual occurrence of back-to-back league matches against the same opposition in UCD.
For the first instalment of that double-header, Dundalk will be without Cameron Dummigan, who sat out the last two matches due to an ankle injury, but Robbie Benson and Jordan Flores could return.
Dane Massey faces a late fitness test heading into this match though with Dean Jarvis, who made his return to the squad in the cup win over Derry, ready to fill the void at left-back should he be needed.
UCD come into this fixture ten points adrift from guaranteed safety and on the back of four straight defeats in the Premier Division, which included a humiliating club-record 10-1 loss at Bohemians.
That result prompted the dismissal of Collie O’Neill, who has been replaced by Maciej Tarnogrodzki, whose senior managerial experience is restricted to just a brief spell with Bray Wanderers in 2015.
Polish native Tarnogrodzki immediately worked his magic in the FAI Cup last Friday night with a 3-1 win over St Patrick’s Athletic with Liam Kerrigan (twice) and Yousef Mahdy both on the scoresheet.
In team news, Republic of Ireland U-21 international goalkeeper Conor Kearns serves the last of the six-match suspension he received following the unsavoury scenes against Bohemians on July 15th.
Jack Keaney – a recent signing from Sligo Rovers – is also serving a one-match suspension after the midfielder picked up a second yellow card late on in the perhaps unexpected cup win over St Pats.
The injured Paul Doyle and Evan Osam are both unlikely to feature again this season for the Students, while Josh Collins and Sean McDonald are also likely to miss out on the trip to Dundalk.
Referee: Robert Hennessy.
UCD haven’t beaten Dundalk since winning 3-2 at Oriel Park in 2013 thanks to a David McMillan brace and a goal from Robbie Benson, both of whom of course would later play for the Lilywhites.
It’s almost a full year since Dundalk lost a league match at Oriel. The last team to beat them was Shamrock Rovers, who recorded a 2-1 win at the Carrick Road venue on August 28th, 2018.
That run has now spanned 16 games while Dundalk have lost just once in their last 22 matches at Oriel in all competitions. That loss was against Athlone Town in the Leinster Senior Cup in February.
Dundalk 1/11; Draw 8/1; UCD 25/1
Dundalk 4-1 UCD
Injured: Cameron Dummigan.
Doubtful: Dane Massey, Robbie Benson, Jordan Flores.
Injured: Paul Doyle, Evan Osam.
Doubtful: Josh Collins, Sean McDonald.
Suspended: Jack Keaney, Conor Kearns.