While many could have anticipated that Dundalk would make up one half of an early top-of-the-table clash, far fewer would have predicted that their opponents would be Derry City.
But, having lost on the opening night to Finn Harps, the Candystripes have now racked up four successive victories to share top spot on points with the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division champions, as the two sides prepare to meet in front of the live RTÉ Two cameras at Oriel Park this evening.
Last week Dundalk bounced back in style from their defeat to Cork City two weeks ago with a resounding 4-0 win over St Patricks’ Athletic at Richmond Park, to give manager Stephen Kenny renewed confidence for the visit of the Candystripes.
“We have respect for Derry City,” he says. “They are after winning four in a row including victories over Galway United and Cork City, so they are in a good run of form themselves and playing well.
“From our point of view, we are all very pleased with our win and performance over St Patrick’s Athletic last week. I feel that we have lifted our performances over the past few weeks and we will be ready for Derry.”
Former Candystripe Patrick McEleney, who is still recovering from a groin injury, is a doubt ahead of the game against his old club, as the visitors from Foyleside come into the game on the back of a late 2-1 win away to Wexford Youths.
Another of the early season surprise packages, Galway United, are alone in third place as they travel to Tallaght (kick-off 8pm) to face a Shamrock Rovers side who lie fifth.
Hoops boss Pat Fenlon has mixed news on the injury front, with Danny North ruled out as a result of knee problem sustained in training yesterday and doubts over the availability of Gary Shaw. Rovers also remain without captain Stephen McPhail and defender Luke Byrne who have been sidelined since the start of the season.
The better news for manager Fenlon is that Killian Brennan is out of sick bay and fit for selection tonight.
Meanwhile, the board of Galway United FC yesterday moved to disassociate itself completely from comments made online and then expanded upon on radio by former director Mike Buckley about how, following the terrorist attack in Brussels, he would feel unsafe to find himself “near any Muslim”.
In a statement yesterday, Galway said: “The club wishes to reaffirm its anti-racism policy. The club fully supports the ‘Show Racism The Red Card’ campaign and promotes that message at all its matches in Eamonn Deacy Park.
“In recent days, a former director of the club posted a message on his personal social media page which has been the subject of considerable comment. These views do not reflect in any way the position of Galway United Football Club and its Board of Directors. We appreciate and encourage the support of Galwegians and all sports people.”
In tonight’s other Premier League games, Bohemians host Longford Town at Dalymount Park, Finn Harps are home to St Patrick’s Athletic in Ballybofey (8pm) and Wexford Youths welcome Bray Wanderers to Ferrycarrig Park (8pm).
In the First Division, it’s Drogheda United v Cabinteely, United Park; UCD v Athlone Town, The UCD Bowl; and Waterford United v Cobh Ramblers, at the RSC.
Boss Roddy Collins will be missing from the United dugout after he lost an appeal against a fine and six-match ban for comments made in a newspaper column.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved