Joint league leaders St Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk meet in a top-of-the-table clash at Richmond Park this evening which will screened live on RTÉ2 (kick-off 7.30pm).
The home side have the better goal difference but, with just six games to play in the Airtricity League Premier Division, tonight’s match could have a potentially decisive say in the destination of the title.
For Pats boss Liam Buckley, this is the type of high stakes encounter that should require no extra motivation for the Saints players.
“If you’re not hyped up for a game like this, playing a team joint top of the table and just six games to go, you should just go buy yourself a snooker cue or a tennis racket,” he says. “It means so much to the club, our supporters, sponsors, and everyone associated with St Pat’s. From the dressing room perspective, we’ve worked hard all year to get into this position so we just need to seize the moment and carry things on for the remaining games.”
Those sentiments are echoed at Oriel Park where, under the canny stewardship of Stephen Kenny, Dundalk are having a season to remember. The latest accolade to come the Lilywhites’ way is the Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Player of the Month award for August, won by midfielder Richie Towell, ahead of St Pats’ Conan Byrne and Cork City’s Danny Morrissey.
Ahead of tonight’s game, Towell says: “The game with St Pat’s will have a big bearing on who ends up winning the league, but I wouldn’t call it a title decider because there are still another five tough games to go. We know this is going to be a difficult stretch, but we’re ready for it and full of confidence.”
For manager Stephen Kenny, it’s imperative that his players keep their feet on the ground. “We acknowledge St Patrick’s Athletic are an excellent team and it will be a very difficult game,” he says. “What we need to do is stay focused on the game and not get caught up in the occasion. We are confident and we’ve prepared well.”
Elsewhere in the Premier Division tonight, third-placed Sligo Rovers will be keeping up the chase away to UCD (7.45pm), while Derry City host Bray Wanderers (7.45pm) and there’s a basement Dublin derby between Shels and Bohemians at Tolka Park (8pm).
In the First Division, it’s Salthill Devon v Athlone Town (7.45pm), Waterford United v Wexford Youths (7.45pm) and Finn Harps v Mervue United (8pm).
Meanwhile, the meeting of Tubbercurry and Tourlestrane in the Sligo Gaelic football county final has been switched to Sunday October 13 to avoid clashing with the FAI Cup semi-final between Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds on Sunday October 6.
Pat McGrath, chairman of the Sligo CCC said: “Sport will be the winner from this rearrangement. The county final and FAI Cup semi-final are the two biggest sporting occasions in Sligo this year, and it made no sense to have them clashing on the same day.”
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