With one hand already on the title, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is determined to complete the job against St Patrick’s Athletic at Oriel Park tonight (7.45pm, live on RTÉ2).
After their 3-2 victory over Derry City in their last league outing, the Lilywhites are 12 points clear of reigning champions Cork City with just four games remaining. A vastly superior goal difference means that barring an unprecedented collapse, the Premier Division is set for a return to north Louth.
While having room for error ahead of their FAI Cup final appearance next month, Kenny says his side won’t be taking their eye off the ball as they chase a series of records between now and the season.
We still mathematically need a point and we have to go and try and get that against Pat’s,” said Kenny.
“There’s no danger of us taking our foot off the pedal. We still have the all-time points total (Bohemians finished with 85 points in 2008) as a target as well as the all-time goals total so we can’t dismiss those things. We have to keep going and keep winning the matches.
“We want to try and keep our form up and get the extra point we need to win the league. Hopefully we can do that on Friday.”
With a fourth title in five seasons in sight, Kenny said these were moments to savour.
“It’s a wonderful period for the club. The players worked so hard to try and regain the league title and we’re in a great position. A few weeks ago we couldn’t have envisaged it would finish so quickly. We probably expected it to go down to the last couple of games but it’s just been an incredible run of form but we want that to continue by trying to win our last four games.
It would be nice to win it on Friday in front of our home support,” he said.
There was a further boost for Dundalk yesterday as veteran goalkeeper Gary Rogers signed a new deal. Rogers, 37, has won two league titles, the FAI Cup and an EA Sports Cup in his time at the club.
Rogers has 28 clean sheets so far in 2018.
“All in all I am very happy,” said Rogers. “It was an easy decision to stay. The way things have been going here it has been great and you’d be hopeful that will continue.”
Jamie McGrath (groin) and Sean Hoare (hamstring) are doubts to face their former club.
St Pat’s will look to spoil the party at Oriel Park, but caretaker boss Ger O’Brien will be without Darragh Markey and Dean Clarke through suspension, while striker Christy Fagan remains out with a knee injury.
Dundalk have been impressive on their way to claiming this year’s league title. We know it will be a tough game against them in Oriel Park and we will need to be at our best to get a result,” O’Brien told stpatsfc.com.
Limerick will host EA Sports Cup winners Derry (Markets Field, 7.45pm) knowing they appear destined to finish in the promotion-relegation play-off place, as Sligo and Derry appear out of reach. Sligo host Bray Wanderers tomorrow night.
There’s a massive game in the First Division this evening also with Shelbourne — who finished the regular season in third place — hosting Drogheda United,who finished the regular season in fourth place, in the first leg of their promotion/relegation play-off series match at Tolka Park. Owen Heary’s Shels side come into the match on the back of a surprising victory in the final of the Leinster Senior Cup against St Pat’s.
All matches kick off at 7.45pm.