League Champions Dundalk begin the defence of their title with a visit of Derry City to Oriel Park on Friday night in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division (kick-off 7.45pm).
With a league title and the EA Sports Cup in the bag from his first season in charge, Vinny Perth will be looking to keep that momentum as they welcome Derry City for the opening game of the season.
Despite Storm Ciara causing the cancellation of the President’s Cup game last weekend, centre-half Andy Boyle has been very happy with their pre-season campaign.
“It has been a good pre-season. We had some good games against good opposition – Cluj and CSKA Moscow. They are good sides and it was great to test ourselves against that kind of opposition going into the season,” he told dundalkfc.com.
“I feel for myself it has went well. I have been in good form myself, as a team it has been good and we have worked on a lot of things. Everything has been geared towards tomorrow night and we are all looking forward to it.”
Boyle is looking to carry the success of last year into 2020.
“We want to continue where we left off last year. It was a great season for us last year and we finished really strong.
“As players all you want to do is play games and we have a hectic start but that is good and we want to get off to the best start that we can over the next couple of weeks. “
Boyle is also aware how tough the Candystripes can be but is happy Dundalk have prepared for the battle ahead.
“Since I came back last summer, Derry have been tough opposition. They have always tried to play. They are a good side. They have a physical threat too.
We have done our homework on them, we are ready for the test ahead and hopefully we can pick up the three points.
Manager Vinny Perth will be without John Mountney and Sean Murray. New signing Stefan Colovic isn’t available for selection however the rest of the squad are fit.
The Candystripes will have a total of nine new faces on the trip to Oriel Park on Friday night as they get their 2020 campaign up and running against champions, Dundalk.
Manager Declan Devine is happy to get the action underway after a long break since the end of the 2019 season.
"We're glad to be getting started to be honest; pre-season has been long enough now and we're ready to get going. Obviously you can't get a much tougher assignment for your first game, but we'll embrace it.
"Our record against the top three last season was poor and it's something we're looking to improve on. We may have lost our top scorers from last season but I'm excited about the players we have brought in."
"We only scored six goals from midfield last time as well so we're looking for much more support in that department."
"Dundalk and Rovers continue to set the standard but it's up to us to look to close the gap. I believe we have recruited well and we need to try to improve on our achievements from last year."
The Derry manager is happy with the squad he has assembled and the competition within it.
"We have really good cover in every position now and that was always the plan. We have options from back to front and competition for places so there will be opportunities for everyone in the squad. It's very much a case of one game at a time for now."
Referee: Neil Doyle
Last season these sides met on six occasions. Dundalk recorded two wins in the league as well as two 2-2 draws. They drew in the League Cup and Dundalk beat the Candystripes in the FAI Cup.
Dundalk’s biggest win over Derry City was a 5-0 home win in 2014. Meenan, Massey, Hoban, Kurtis Byrne and Gartland with the goals. They also recorded a 5-0 away win in 2016. McMillan (3), Massey and Horgan with the goals.
Derry City’s highest scoring win was in 1996-97 where they registered a 5-2 win over the Lilywhites. Goals from Gary Beckett (2), Tom Mohan, Sean Hargan and James Keddy for Derry. Joe Gallen and Brian Byrne scored for Dundalk.
Dundalk 2/5; Draw 16/5; Derry City 11/2.
Dundalk 2 - 1 Derry City
Injured: John Mountney, Sean Murray
Unavailable: Stefan Colovic