Newly promoted Shelbourne take on the challenge of league champions Dundalk in a pulsating fixture in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division at Tolka Park tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
Shels will be looking to maintain their 100% start to life back in the big time with a home win over defending champions Dundalk on Friday night.
Ian Morris’s side enjoyed a winning return to the SSE Airtricity Premier Division last Friday with a hard fought 1-0 away win over Cork City in a keenly contested affair at Turner’s Cross in front of a packed house.
Both sides kept things tight at the back and cancelled each other out in the decisive areas on the pitch. The game looked destined to end in a stalemate until Ciaran Kilduff produced the match winning moment with just three minutes left on the clock to break the home fans hearts and send the travelling supporters into pandemonium.
Shels produced an impressive display and showed that they possess some of the battling qualities required if they are to preserve their status as a top-flight club.
Manager Ian Morris was naturally pleased with his side’s efforts and will be hoping for more of the same.
Morris will be hoping for the Drumcondra faithful to be there in numbers to get behind his side and act as a catalyst to turn Tolka Park into a fortress this season.
The Lilywhites will similarly have ambitions to make it two wins from two when they make the relatively short-hop trip to the capital to lock horns with newly promoted Shelbourne.
The champions made a winning start to the defence of their crown with a 1-0 win over Derry City at Oriel Park last Friday night. Vinny Perth’s men did not have things all their own way and the Candystripes severely tested the Dundalk rear guard for much of the contest.
Derry had run Dundalk very close on many occasions last season particularly in the EA Sports Cup Final and frustrated the home side and the home fans for long periods. Eventually the pressure from the Lilywhites took its toll and the Candystripes succumbed to sucker punch in the 79th minute when Jordan Flores set up Dane Massey for the deciding goal.
The win also maintained the champion’s long unbeaten home record that now stretches back as far as the start of the 2019 season.
The Lilywhites midfielder Greg Sloggett spoke of how the result was of more importance than the result on the opening weekend telling www.dundalkfc.com, “It was brilliant to get the first three points on the board last week against Derry City. It’s a long season and it was important for us to get off to that start, we wanted to start winning early.”
Sloggett also expressed the need for a good pre-season in preparation for the string of busy fixtures at the start of the league campaign telling www.dundalkfc.com, “We have three tough games coming and we aren’t looking too far ahead but we have a frantic fixture list. The plan in pre-season was to be ready for these games coming. They are coming thick and fast early on, we feel in a good place and we are looking forward to the next few weeks.”
Dundalk boss Vinny Perth will have an almost fully fit squad from which to select from with John Mountney and Sean Murray being remaining side-lined through injury.
Patrick McEleney and Georgie Kelly will have to undergo late fitness tests to force their way into the reckoning. Perth will also have the additional services of new Serbian signing Stefan Colovic.
Referee: Damian McGraith
The last time Shels clashed with the Lilywhites was back in the 2017 season in the Leinster Senior Cup final with Shelbourne lifting the trophy with a 4-2 victory.
In their last 10 competitive matches since 2013 Dundalk have the vastly superior record with 9 wins to Shelbourne’s solitary cup final win.
Shelbourne scored 7 goals in the 10 matches averaging 0.7 per game with Dundalk scoring 24 goals averaging 2.4 per game.
Shels currently are in 1st place on 3 points with one win from their one league match.
Dundalk are currently in 5th place on 3 points with one win from their one league match.
Shelbourne 13/2 Draw 16/5 Dundalk 4/11
Shelbourne 1-2 Dundalk
Injured: John Mountney, Sean Murray
Doubtful: Patrick McEleney, Georgie Kelly