Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers believes his side’s style can overcome Cork City’s guile when the two go head-to-head in their top-of-the-table clash at Oriel Park tomorrow night.
With 58 goals scored already this season, including 13 in their three matches this month, Stephen Kenny’s side have been winning plaudits for the quality of their play.
The praise for Cork has been less evident. yet it is the champions who travel to Co Louth this week with a one-point lead in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division, having demonstrated a superb ability to grind out results when not at their best.
That quality was shown again in their final game before the break, when Gearoid Morrissey came off the bench to score an 89th-minute winner against Bohs that kept John Caulfield’s side on top.
That late strike denied Dundalk a chance to go back on top. This weekend, though, Rogers is well aware his side’s destiny is in their own hands.
“We can’t affect what they do, week-to-week, but we can on Friday. We’ll be going out to win in the hope of grabbing the initiative in the title race by going top. Equally, they will be looking to stay there, so a win or a draw will do for them.”
Given the consistency of both teams this season, dropping just 13 and 14 points respectively, it is likely that the head-to-head matches between the pair could have a big say in who lifts the title. Rogers feels it is too early to bill Friday’s game as a title decider, though. “Any time you play your biggest rivals it’s an opportunity to put some daylight between you. We’ve been very good at home this season and we won’t change the way we play.”
Dundalk won the first meeting of these rivals 1-0 at Oriel Park in March, but City held sway by the same margin the following month. In recent times, the Rebels have had the edge in the head-to-head battles, but Rogers believes Dundalk’s victory on home soil earlier this season has put any talk of a hoodoo to bed.
“It was a really good performance from us that night. We had a lot of new faces in the team at the time and it was good to get the win, because we’ve pushed on from then.
“We had a few nil-nils at the start of the season, but now there are goals coming from all over the team and we’re in great form. We’ve had a break away in Spain together last weekend and that will hopefully stand to us, like it has in previous years when we really kicked on after the break.
“We want to get the title back this season and, if we can take points off Cork on Friday, it will be a huge boost.”
Meanwhile Dundalk last night denied a deal has been completed for the return of Patrick McEleney.
The Derry man has been strongly linked to completing a return to the Lilywhites from Oldham, who were relegated to England’s League Two last season. LMFM said yesterday a two-year deal had been completed but Dundalk branded that “fake news”.
The club’s twitter feed said last night: “If and when a player signs a contract with our club we will let you know - please take any other sources of information with a giant pinch of salt.”