Dundalk aiming to focus on victory after difficult week

The Co Louth town came to a standstill yesterday as the club laid to rest their cameraman/groundsman Harry Taaffe following his passing last Sunday in tragic circumstances
Dundalk aiming to focus on victory after difficult week
David McMillan at Oriel Park in Dundalk after signing for Dundalk FC. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Champions Dundalk FC will be hoping to end a difficult week with a positive result when they welcome St Patrick's Athletic to Oriel Park tonight for the restart of the SSE Airtricity League (kick-off 7.45pm, live on RTÉ Two).

The Co Louth town came to a standstill yesterday as the club laid to rest their cameraman/groundsman Harry Taaffe following his passing last Sunday in tragic circumstances.

Harry's death has overshadowed the Lilywhites' preparations for the return of the league this week but goalkeeper Gary Rogers says they must put their grief to one side for 90 minutes to ensure they get the re-started campaign off to a winning start.

"It has been a difficult week for everyone at the club," said the 38-year-old.

"Harry was the backbone for a lot of what went on at the club. He was an integral part of it. It was his life.

"We're very grateful for what he did for us as players, both individually and collectively, and we'll never forget him.

"It has been a sad week but we all have jobs to do and football is a great job to have. We've waited a long time for football to return and we're really looking forward to the game and hopefully getting back up and running with three points."

Vinny Perth's side trail early pacesetters Shamrock Rovers by three points following the opening five games in February and March and, with just 13 matches remaining, will know there is little room for error if they are to make it three league wins in-a-row by the end of the shortened season this October.

With one eye on Europe next month, Dundalk have added to their ranks since lockdown with twice capped USA international Joshua Gatt signing, Cameron Dummigan returning from a loan spell at Crusaders and 2016 European star David McMillan re-joining after a two-and-a-half year period in Scotland. 

Nathan Oduwa, who signed just before lockdown, will also be in contention for his debut tonight while there could be a first outing on home soil for Serbian Stefan Colovic.

McMillan takes the place of Georgie Kelly in the squad, with the 23-year-old striker having moved on loan to St Patrick's Athletic earlier this week. He is ineligible to play this evening but manager Stephen O'Donnell will be able to call on fellow new recruits, former Bradford City star Jordan Gibson and Latvian U-21 international David Titov.

The Inchicore outfit started their campaign with two wins and two defeats but will be hoping to claim a big scalp heading into a daunting run of fixtures with all of last season's top four lined up to face them in their next five games.

Before the big televised game, Derry City will host Sligo Rovers in the first match to be shown live on the league's new streaming platform WATCHLOI.

Daniel Kelly of Dundalk at the launch of WATCHLOI. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel Kelly of Dundalk at the launch of WATCHLOI. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Both sides need a result from the 5.45pm kick-off with Derry having taken just four points from their opening four games and Sligo the only side without a point on the board to date.

Both teams have added to their ranks in recent weeks with Declan Devine bringing in midfielders Adam Hamill, Joe Thomson, Jake Dunwoody and strikers Akintunde and Ibrahim Meite to replace the departing Jamie McDonagh, Tim Nilsen, Adam Liddle and Danny Lupano. The Candystripes have also been boosted by the return of fitness of defender Darren Cole who has been missing since suffering an ACL injury last year.

Sligo Rovers have also been busy in the transfer market with the acquisition of last season's top scorer, former Derry City star Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe but he is unavailable for tonight's game. Liam Buckley's side are boosted, however, by the return to fitness of Ronan Murray, Lewis Banks and Johnny Dunleavy.

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