Oriel Park will host SSE Airtricity League Premier Division football for the first time in over a month when league leaders Dundalk welcome eighth-place Waterford on Monday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Dundalk extended their lead at the top of the table on Friday night to eight points, as Sean Gannon’s goal in the 73rd minute secured a 1-0 win over second-place Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
“There was nothing in the game on Friday night against Shamrock Rovers. Both of us went out to try and win the game,” Gannon, the SWAI player of the month for May told the club’s official website.
“It’s going to go right to the wire. It’s great to go to Tallaght Stadium and take all three points in a tough game.”
Despite securing what was their 12th win from 13 matches, Gannon insists that the title race is far from finished as both themselves and Rovers head into the final 14 fixtures of the 2019 campaign.
“It’s always a difficult game for us and to get the win was huge for us so to be eight points clear is great.
“But there is a lot of football to be played over the next few weeks. We have improvements to make, we know that, but we are very happy with where we are.”
Next up for the Lilywhites is the visit of Waterford and the Ringsend native – whose goal on Friday night was in fact his first of the season – is not expecting Dundalk to have things all their own way.
“Waterford are a good side. We have had two tough games against them this season. The first one was a difficult one with the players we had out, but we have always had tough games against them.
“They have a lot of quality players and have had some good results. They will be coming here looking to win but we can only look after ourselves and we are looking forward to it. Hopefully we can get the three points.”
Having re-joined the club on a three-and-a-half-year contract, Andy Boyle remains ineligible for this match, but Daniel Cleary and Dean Jarvis do return to the fold after serving one-match suspensions.
Dundalk have no injury concerns apart from Jordan Flores, who misses out because of a hip problem.
It’s been a truly miserable week for Waterford, who were rocked by the departure of their influential striker Ismahil Akinade, who has signed for Vietnamese outfit Ho Chi Minh City on a lucrative deal.
Consistently inconsistent this season, the Blues then suffered a devastating defeat at the RSC on Friday night, conceding a goal deep into stoppage-time against Bohemians, who recorded a 2-1 win.
“We were really disappointed to concede late and lose on Friday. It was a good performance and we’ll take lots of positives from it and look to bring that into Monday,” said manager Alan Reynolds.
Languishing in eighth position, Waterford are just a point behind seventh-place Cork City with three games in hand on their Munster rivals coming into Monday night’s fixture against leaders Dundalk.
“Dundalk are the champions and league leaders but we have to go and compete there. They’re an excellent team but we have quality too. We need to make sure we’re on our game and we’ll give it a go.”
It is unknown whether Sam Bone – who has signed on loan from Shamrock Rovers – will be registered in time for this fixture, but George Poynton is available again after serving a suspension.
Dean O’Halloran is also available after he returned from a productive loan spell at Bray Wanderers.
Waterford are, however, again without the injured duo of Kevin Lynch and Zack Elbouzedi, while former Dundalk midfielder Karolis Chvedukas and Dean Walsh are severe doubts for the visit to Oriel.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Friday’s win against Shamrock Rovers was Dundalk’s seventh on the bounce under Vinny Perth – it took his predecessor Stephen Kenny more than three years to achieve a winning sequence such as that.
The first ever meeting between Dundalk and Waterford produced a ten-goal thriller, when the Lilywhites thrashed their Munster opponents 7-3 at the old Athletic Grounds on the 24th August, 1930.
Waterford haven’t won at Oriel Park since January 2003 when future Republic of Ireland international striker Daryl Murphy got the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win for the eventual First Division winners.
Dundalk 1/4; Draw 9/2; Waterford 10/1
Dundalk 3-0 Waterford
Injured: Jordan Flores.
Injured: Kevin Lynch, Zack Elbouzedi.
Doubtful: Karolis Chvedukas, Dean Walsh.