Daniel Kelly 64' -
Crowned champions in their last league outing, Dundalk will extend their unbeaten in domestic competitions to 31 matches should they avoid defeat to Derry City at Oriel Park on Friday night.
The Lilywhites are also on course for what would be a first ever domestic treble in the club’s history after beating Sligo Rovers 1-0 at the Showgrounds in the FAI Cup semi-finals last Sunday evening.
“I said when I came here that this is what I wanted to do. I came here to win trophies and play in Europe,” midfielder Sean Murray told the club’s official website.
“We have won two trophies and I have played in Europe so I am three quarters of the way there now. I have had a few knocks and setbacks but I am feeling good now.
“I want to do it all again and the FAI Cup final will be my first final like that, so it’s something to look forward to but we want to go there and win. I have come over here and achieved a lot and I want to achieve even more.
“We have a big end of season coming up. We aren’t going to ease off even though we have won the league and into the final. There are places in the final side up for grabs and these games are important for that.
“I want to stake a claim now for the rest of the season and see where it gets me. I hopefully have given myself a chance to start in the next few games. I am just glad to be back fit and feeling good again.”
For the visit of Derry, Dundalk will be without the suspended duo of Daniel Cleary and Dean Jarvis, while both Patrick McEleney (hamstring) and John Mountney (foot) also miss out through injuries.
This fixture holds greater significance for European-chasing Derry City, who are actually the last team to take as much as even a point from the Lilywhites when they did so in a 2-2 draw back in July.
A top-four finish would guarantee Europa League qualification and they are currently three points ahead of fifth-place St Patrick’s Athletic heading into their next fixture against champions Dundalk.
An easy 4-0 win – in which Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe took his tally for the season to 11 – over struggling Cork City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium last time out went some way to achieving that.
“We’ve talked this week about the fact that we’ve only lost three times on the road this season. That’s a superb achievement for a group of players who have only been together since January and we can take heart from that,” said assistant manager Kevin Deery.
“Dundalk have earned all the plaudits this season and rightly so. They have had another brilliant year but from our point, we’ve competed with them every time we met.
“They have already won the league, but we know Ruaidhrí and many of their players and they’ll still be looking to protect their 30-game unbeaten run, so there’s no chance of them taking their eye off the ball.
“We have no match for 15 days after this so we can focus all our attention on Friday night. A result there would really set things up for that busy end to the season.”
The Candystripes have been hit with the news that Jack Malone’s season is over after picked up a stress fracture in his foot, while Darren Cole also misses out on the trip to Dundalk through injury.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
It’s now well over 12 months since Dundalk lost a league match at Oriel Park – last team to beat them at the Louth venue was Shamrock Rovers, who recorded a 2-1 win there in August 28th, 2018.
Dundalk are now unbeaten in 23 league matches which is a club record. The last team to take as much as even a point from the Lilywhites was Derry City, who drew 2-2 at the Brandywell in July.
Now with 80 points, eight more from their final four fixtures would see Dundalk break the single-season League of Ireland points record that they themselves set last season with a hefty tally of 87.
Dundalk 6/5; Draw 13/5; Derry City 21/10
Dundalk 1-1 Derry City
Injured: John Mountney, Patrick McEleney.
Suspended: Dean Jarvis, Daniel Cleary.
Injured: Jack Malone, Darren Cole.