Dundalk icon Stephen O’Donnell returns to Oriel Park this Friday evening as the 2020 League of Ireland season kicks back into gear with St Parrick’s Athletic travelling to take on the champions (KO 19:45).
Dundalk will hope to build on their form prior to lockdown where the solitary blot on their copybook came in the shape of that all-action 3-2 defeat away to fellow title challengers Shamrock Rovers in February.
Vinny Perth’s side opened up their season with three efficient victories over Derry, Shelbourne and Cork prior to that Rovers defeat and the Lilywhites proceeded to bounce back from that disappointment in typically professional fashion by hitting four past Finn Harps before lockdown postponed the season.
That Harps fixture in Ballybofey saw talisman striker Patrick Hoban net his fourth and fifth goals of the campaign and the 29-year-old has shown signs of being back to his devastating best in 2020. An in-form Hoban is always a deadly weapon for Dundalk and he is sure to be eyeing up top spot in both the league table and goalscoring charts when he comes up against the Saints this weekend.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
St Pat’s have had a mixed start to the season with two wins and two losses. The visitors are fortunate enough to find themselves in fourth position however and an unlikely third victory of the season would be a huge confidence boost, capable of propelling their season to new heights.
In his first full season as manager Stephen O’Donnell has so far seen his much-changed side win two and lose two of their opening four fixtures of 2020. Despite disappointing 1-0 defeats to Waterford and Shelbourne, O’Donnell has stated his contentment with the level of performance and ambition of play shown by the group that helped them snatch victories against Cork and Sligo Rovers.
That said, Pat’s staff and fans alike will be hoping their men can improve the longer the season goes on as their nine new signings including the likes of Robbie Benson, Billy King and Jason McClelland look to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and systems at Inchicore.
Referee: Rob Harvey
Dundalk 2/5 ; Draw 16/5; St Patrick’s Athletic 13/2.
St Pat’s last beat Dundalk in a league fixture at Oriel Park back in August of 2012.
Dundalk’s last home league defeat came at the hands of Shamrock Rovers back in August of 2018.
Dundalk’s 0-0 draw with Bray Wanderers back in February 2018 was the last time Dundalk failed to score at home in the league.
Dundalk 2-0 St Pat’s
St Patrick’s Athletic
Unavailable: Georgie Kelly (Can’t play against parent club).