The Argus

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Oriel roar can be vital 12th man

When I was young,

I followed them,

Dundalk FC

The team for me

There is only one place to be this Friday night and if you can't be there then the TV is the next best option.

If you are stuck in front of the television, open the living room window and get the sounds from Oriel Park live.

The home of football in Dundalk will be jam-packed and rocking on Friday night as Stephen Kenny's team face Cork City in a title decider with the SSE Airtricity League up for grabs.

For anyone who doesn't know, it is winner take all - although a draw will do for the Leesiders - and if you could plug into the atmosphere on Friday night, you could boil several kettles. Charged will be an understatement.

In fairness the atmosphere at the Carlisle Grounds last Friday night was supercharged as the Dundalk supporters did their level best to carry their team to a vital victory over Bray after they fell behind after just 28 seconds. In the end the team only managed a superb equaliser from scoring sensation Patrick Hoban which brings us to Friday's cliffhanger.

Dundalk haven't dined at the top table in domestic soccer for twenty years when a team managed by Dermot Keely, captained by Martin Lawlor and starring Tom McNulty, Mick Doohan, Gino Lawless and Brian Byrne won the club's ninth league title.

Prior to that the late 70s and 80s were Dundalk's golden era when they won five league titles, four FAI Cups, including two league and cup doubles and played epic European ties against Glasgow Celtic, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and FC Porto.

Those were great days to be up in Oriel Park and the white pinstripe Harp Lager jersey of that double winning team from 1988 took pride of place in my wardrobe even over any Crown Paints or Carlsberg Liverpool shirt and those too were Liverpool's glory days.

Gaelic football is the biggest sport in Ireland and a Louth All Ireland Final win or even appearance would be the biggest sports event in the county, but outside of that, Friday's prize is the biggest sporting trophy that is likely to reside in Dundalk.

The team have been magnificent all season, playing superb football and scoring for fun. They have topped the league table throughout May, June, July, August, September and right through October until last Friday night.

The support has been equally big in number and noise, however this Friday night the support needs to raise the roof of the Shed and the stand, a cauldron of support to back our boys and unsettle Cork City.

The visitors will look to quieten the crowd in the first fifteen minutes.

Whatever happens on the field, don't let the noise and support fade right to the final whistle.

It has been a great season, it might turn out to be a magical one.

So one last big, big effort from players and supporters.


Irish Independent