Daniel Cleary 45' + 1' -
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
Having started the season brightly, St Pat's find themselves on a five game winless streak in the league.
Furthermore, they have scored only three goals in their seven league matches to date and all of those have been scored by just one man, Mikey Drennan, and he is suspended for Friday’s game against last season’s double winners Dundalk (kick off 7.45pm).
Manager Harry Kenny is also without striker Dean Clarke for the visit of the Lilywhites to Incichore. Clarke is recovering from concussion, so the striker’s jersey will fall to Gary Shaw on Friday night.
Kenny might also be without Brandon Miele for the game - he will face a late fitness test - and Kenny, speaking to www.stpatsfc.com, admitted that he expects to make four or five changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Dundalk in Monday night’s EA Sports Cup meeting in Richmond Park.
Despite that defeat Kenny was generally pleased with his team’s performance saying he was “delighted with the lads that came in; James [Doona], Cian [Coleman], Darragh [Markey] and big Ciaran [Kelly]. There was a good attitude from everyone.
“I thought we were very unlucky with the result. It’s the same old story that we’re making mistakes which are costing us and we always seem to be playing catch up. So if we can rule out those… we’ll be okay.”
Kenny’s defensive concerns are relatively new. Having kept clean sheets in all three of their opening league matches, the Saints have now conceded in each of their last four, not an ideal scenario when the current league champions are coming to town.
Apart from securing Dundalk’s progress to the EA Sports cup quarter-finals, last Monday’s 2-1 win over St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park provided an encouraging dress rehearsal ahead of Friday night’s league encounter.
Goals from Georgie Kelly and Dean Jarvis sent the Lilywhites through and left Vinny Perth’s side with five wins from their last six league and cup matches.
In fact, Dundalk remain unbeaten in the league this year but they have dropped points thanks to three draws and find themselves seven points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers, albeit with two games in hand.
Defensively Dundalk’s form in 2019 has been the exact opposite of St Pats’. They conceded goals in each of their three opening league matches but have kept four clean sheets since then, shutting out Shamrock Rovers, Waterford, Derry City and Cork City.
Dundalk are also in a position to boast that six different players have scored for them in the league this season, as opposed to one for St Pats. Pat Hoban and Sean Murray top their scoring charts with three apiece.
League of Ireland fans have watched Dundalk win four league titles in the last five seasons and the signs of growing momentum for yet another League crown are unmistakeable; a few early slips but no defeats, consistent goal-scoring from varied quarters and a remorseless ability to take points even from tight matches.
It would be a brave football fan who would bet against another three points going their way on Friday.
Referee: Ray Matthews.
Dundalk have won only one of their away league games in 2019, a 2-0 win against Derry at the Brandywell, while St Pats have won only one of their three home league games, a 1-0 win over Cork City on the opening night of the season.
Dundalk won two of their four league games against St Pat’s last season, the other two ending in draws.
The last time St Pat’s beat Dundalk in the league was on 25 October 2016 when they ran out 5-2 winners.
St Pat’s 4/1; Draw 13/5; Dundalk 4/6.
St Patrick’s Athletic 0-2 Dundalk
St Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Dean Clarke (concussion).
Doubtful: Brandon Miele.
Suspended: Mikey Drennan.
Injured: Robbie Benson (broken leg), Patrick McEleney (broken foot).