'We could be more exciting this year' - Dundalk captain allays fears over loss of Richie Towell
Dundalk captain Stephen O'Donnell believes that the defending champions could be a more exciting team to watch this season despite the loss of the inspirational Richie Towell.
The Louthmen start their campaign in Bray tomorrow night as they attempt to become just the fourth side in the league's history to win three titles in a row.
Towell left for Brighton after scoring 29 goals in all competitions in a double winning 2015 and Stephen Kenny moved to replace him by signing creative duo Patrick McEleney and Robbie Benson from Derry City and UCD respectively.
O'Donnell knows that the departure of Towell leaves a massive gap but he still thinks that this year's crop will provide value for money.
"I think we're going to be a different to watch, with a different style of play with the signings we've made," says the Galwegian. "If anything, I think we could be more exciting or pleasing on the eye this season.
"We're realistic. We're not going to have a midfielder that will score 29 goals this season, it would be silly to think you can replace that but football is not a like for like, you don't take a person out and then one comes in. The whole team will play a bit differently with the two lads we've brought in.
"People were asking how we were going to replace Pat Hoban's goals the year before and we found a way to do that and I think the squad in general will probably chip in with more goals this season."
Dundalk were given a wake-up call by a President's Cup loss to Cork last weekend and they are the team which every opponent will be looking to take down this term. Bray were busy over the winter signing some recognisable faces from around the league and they will view this game as an opportunity to lay down a marker. O'Donnell doesn't mind being the prize target.
"You'd rather be in that position than be the challenger," says the 30-year-old, "We know that everyone will eye Dundalk as the big scalp and up their game. We're going to have to play better than we did last year, there's no doubt about that.
"We're under no illusions but I'd rather be in our position. We've gone and done it twice and we know what it takes. Even if a game is going against you, you're more secure about how things are going because you're confident the chance will come and you know you can take that chance."