Dundalk switch focus to title run

Fresh from last week’s historic exploits in the Europa League, Dundalk refocus fully on their title retention quest when they host Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park this evening.

And with third-placed Derry City also due at the same venue on Friday, it’s another big week Lilywhites’ central defender Brian Gartland is eager to embrace.

In-form Cork City’s 3-0 win over Rovers at Turner’s Cross on Friday reduced the champions lead to seven points, though with a game more played.

“We want to win every game and tonight against Rovers is no different,” stressed Garland.

“We’re going into the game knowing we need to win to keep our lead at the top of the table.

“It’ll be difficult, and we have another game on Friday, but we’re confident and will be going out to win.”

Reflecting on last week’s dramatic 1-1 draw at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in their opening Europa League group game, Garltand said: “In the circumstances, I felt that Thursday was a brilliant point.”

A goal down, Dundalk had captain Stephen O’Donnell sent off for a second booking midway through the second half, but still summoned the resolved to snatch an 89th minute equaliser through substitute Ciaran Kilduff.

“We played 20 or 30 minutes a man down against a good European side and we were 1-0 down for the most part.

“We’re very pleased with how we got it in the end. We felt like we should have possibly been in front ourselves, but it wasn’t to be and we fell behind.

“Then the sending of happened and it looked like it was going to be a bad night, but it was a great header from Ciaran. We were all delighted for him.”

Dundalk are again without Darren Meenan as the winger recovers from a groin injury while striker Ciaran O’Connor (ribs) remains absent also.

Shamrock Rovers continue without long-term injured left-back Luke Byrne. Midfielder Brandon Miele is also out injured while winger Trevor Clarke is suspended.

Evan Osam is finally back fit and returns to the squad along with fellow defender Dave O’Connor while midfielder Patrick Cregg and striker Sean Boyd come back in following one-match bans.

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