League Preview: Dundalk -v- Shamrock Rovers

Oriel Park

Oriel Park Credit: Paul Dolan (ETPhotos)


Six points adrift at the bottom of the table, without a full time manager for the second time this season, with no Head of Football Operations and with a goalkeeper serving his second of a ten game ban, Dundalk face four-in-a-row champions Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park on Friday night.

The upheaval of the past week with the departure of both Noel King and Brian Gartland – along with a 4-1 away defeat to Waterford – means it is a tough task for Liam Burns who will take charge of the Lilywhites after King’s abdication from his managerial role due to medical reasons.

Dundalk have just the one victory in the league this season. That was a win against Bohemians at the end of April and since then they have drawn at home with league leaders Shelbourne and lost away to Drogheda as well as at the RSC.

Speaking to Dundalkfc.com Burns said: “It’s obviously been a bit of a strange week for everyone at the club but our only focus over the past few days has been on getting the team ready for Friday night. 

“Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers is one of the biggest games of the season and after two tough away games in Drogheda and Waterford, we’re looking forward to getting back to Oriel Park.

“Our home form has been good, we haven’t conceded a goal in our last five games at Oriel, and we’ve had a good record against Rovers in recent years so that’s something we need to try and build on.

“We need to make it one of those nights where everyone comes together and gets behind the lads on the pitch and if we do that, we’re more than capable of getting a good result.”


The turmoil at Oriel Park should prove beneficial to the Hoops but Stephen Bradley’s team travel up the M1 from Tallaght with just the one win in their last six matches. With 17 goals conceded, only Drogheda and Dundalk (23) have let in more goals.

Rovers sit third in the table three points off Shelbourne and the top of the table – a position that the Hoops have yet to hold this season.

Speaking to shamrockrovers.ie Stephen Bradley wasn’t buying in to the talk that this season is the closest title race in recent years.

“We’re doing ok. But we can be a lot better, there’s no doubt about that. But people keep talking about the title race as being the tightest in years, it’s been like this for years. People forget last year Bohs were so far ahead, the year before it was Derry were far ahead and the year before it was Sligo far ahead. 

“We’ve had this for years, so I don’t know why every year people say it’s the tightest it’s ever been. It’s actually not, it’s always like this. Anyone who expects any different is silly and naïve. This league is competitive, it’s tough and it’s always like this right up to the last round of games. I don’t see this as being any different.

"You look back through the years, we’ve gone into the break always behind. It’s just about staying focused, we want to be better than what we have been already, there’s no doubt about that.”

Reflecting on their 2-2 draw with Pat’s last week in a match they twice led, Bradley said: “The game could’ve been over after 15 or 20 minutes as we had a lot of chances. Pat's made some good blocks to be fair to them. But we had enough chances to win the game quite comfortably.

"We’re disappointed at the goals we gave away, really basic from our point of view. We’re frustrated that we only got a point.”

Remarking on the managerial upheavel at Oriel Park, the Hoops Head Coach said: “Obviously Noel has just left, so we don’t know what sort of effect it will be for them, positive or negative. But we can’t control that, we have to focus on us, make sure we go there fully focused to win three points.”

The Hoops have a home game to come next Monday against Derry City who currently sit two points and one position above them in the table. 

Referee: Alan Patchell

3-1 away win


Rovers have drawn seven of their 16 league games to date this season – no team have drawn more than the Hoops in the Premier Division.

Since 2021, the teams have played each other in Oriel Park in six league games and one FAI cup match. Dundalk have five wins along with the one draw. Rovers’ only win was a 4-0 victory in the league in March last season.

In the most recent league game in Oriel, Dundalk defeated Rovers 2-0 last June. A month later Dundalk dumped the Hoops out of the cup in the very first round after a 1-0 victory when they played for over an hour with just ten men. They teams played out a 1-1 draw in Tallaght on the opening night of this season.


Injured: Scott High, Ciaran McGuckin, Dara Keane, Robbie Mahon.

Doubtful: None

Suspended: George Shelvey, Robbie Benson

Shamrock Rovers 

Injured: Gary O’Neill, Sean Hoare, Rory Gaffney, Darragh Burns.

Doubtful: Richie Towell, Aaron McEneff, Lee Grace, Dylan Watts

Suspended: Markus Poom.