Date: 7:45 p.m. March 13, 2009
Venue: Terryland Park
When Dundalk last arrived at Terryland Park in October 2006, the home side were on a run of seven successive wins and were involved in a three-way battle for First Division honours with the Lilywhites and Shamrock Rovers. John Gill's side burst the Galway bubble with a well-deserved 3-1 victory in front of a large travelling contingent, but the result proved irrelevant in the end as Galway profited from the Independent Assessment Group's selection process.
Cue widespread anger from the Louth natives as The Tribesmen leapfrogged Dundalk into the Premier Division. United have since embraced then rejected full-time football, been twice threatened by relegation but survived, replaced two managers, and dramatically slashed their playing budget before this season. Turbulence rules at Terryland, while, arguably, the extra few years in the lower echelons has produced a more stable base on and off the pitch from which Dundalk can now look to build upon in the Premier Division.
Galway's demolition of St Pat's raised eyebrows in many corners, but manager Ian Foster took the win in his stride, revealing the benefits of proper preparation and the easy motivational tool handed to him by the "experts" who were all too quick to write his squad off. Foster, the first Englishman to take the reins at United, has given Jay O'Shea and Derek O'Brien licence to attack without much defensive responsibility, and they duly pulled Jeff Kenna's side to pieces.
Dundalk were far from disgraced when going down by a single goal at home to Bohemians. Sean Connor has recruited a physically imposing squad over the close season and they traded on even terms for much of last week's live televised game.
Following last week's encouraging win, many managers would have rested on their laurels and expected a large turnout at the first home game of the season. Not so Foster, who has urged the Galway public to come out in force to support his side.
“It is vital now that we build on that result. It will be a long season and inevitably there will be ups and downs, but it would be great to notch another win. Hopefully, there will be a huge crowd for the visit of Dundalk. The club needs the sort of support which came out in the latter half of last season to get behind the side from the outset this year.
"Certainly, those who made the trip to St Pat’s last weekend enjoyed the performance and the result, so hopefully they will be out in force this Friday,” said Foster.
Dundalk's midfield options have been weakened by the return to Birmingham City of proposed loanee Michael McKerr, while Michael Collins may have to wait until July to make his competitive debut for The Lilywhites. Darren Mansaram is tipped to return to the squad from injury for a game that Connors reckons his side needs to pick up at least a point from.
Galway's only injury worry is David Cooke, who picked up a hamstring strain in the warm-up at Richmond Park. Cian McBrien proved an able deputee and Foster is likely to field the same XI for the second week running.
Referee: Mark Gough.