St Patrick’s Athletic head to Oriel Park with early point to prove against unbeaten Dundalk
Liam Buckley admits his side have ‘still a few things to work on’
Dan Murray: The Cork City defender is back in contention for his side’s visit to Shamrock Rovers. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
The goals may not have flowed so far, but two wins from two have left the champions looking good as St Patrick’s Athletic arrive to play their first league game of the campaign at Oriel Park this evening.
The corresponding fixture in Inchicore last year turned out to be one of the defining encounters of the season as Dundalk laid down a marker at the home of the then title-holders. Having lost in Tallaght a couple of weeks ago, as well as here in the President’s Cup, Liam Buckley’s men could perhaps do with sending out a signal themselves this time.
A 3-0 defeat of Bray got them back on track last Friday, but Buckley admits there were “still a few things to work on” after that game. He is not helped by the fact that both Ger O’Brien and Jason McGuinness are still sidelined by hamstring problems, with their absence more likely to be felt against Stephen Kenny’s men than against Wanderers.
The hosts should have the same squad available as for the win at Derry, with just Stephen O’Donnell still a few weeks away from featuring again.
Points that got awayCork City will surely target a few of the points that got away from them against Dundalk last season as they look to go one better than the runners-up spot this time around, but they’ll be hard pressed to take nine points from nine again against Shamrock Rovers, who host them in Tallaght this evening.
John Caulfield has Dan Murray, who scored a late winner the last time the two sides met at Turner’s Cross, back in contention, but Rob Lehane (groin), Michael McSweeney (hamstring) and Josh O’Shea (knock) are all ruled out.
Pat Fenlon has doubts about Danny North, Luke Byrne and Pat Cregg, but hopes to have them all available despite the former Hibernian midfielder only getting back to training on Wednesday after missing the Longford game.
Rovers have started well, beating St Patrick’s, then Longford, but the manager admits it will be another week before they have the opportunity to take stock of where they are.
“Yeah, it’s brilliant, the fixtures we’ve been thrown in the first five games,” Fenlon says. “Cork, then Sligo in midweek, which is always a tough game, and then Bohs, who have obviously started well, so it’s a big week, but we have to play them, so we’ll just get on with it.”
Caulfield took exception last year to the suggestion that Cork played less football than their rivals and Fenlon certainly feels that, given the quality the visitors will bring, it would be foolish to underestimate them.
Match and outplay“I think you have got to match them in everything and outplay them as well if we can,” Fenlon says. “But I think it is probably a little bit harsh on them to say they play direct. When you’ve got [Liam] Miller and [Colin] Healy in midfield, then you’ve got fellows who want to get on the ball.
“Against certain opponents, we’ll adapt the way we want to play. We feel we have got a squad capable of doing that now, that we can change it around a little bit without weakening our hand.”
Tommy Dunne is not quite so fortunate in terms of options and the Galway United manager will be missing defender Marc Ludden for the visit of Drogheda United.
Ger Hanley and Killian Cantwell miss out for the hosts again, but David O’Leary hopes to play some part.