Tuesday 24 April 2018

Six-pointer holds key to U-19s' title dream

DUNDALK put their Airtricity Under-19 League Northern Division title hopes on the line this Saturday when they host leaders Sligo Rovers in a crucial top-of-the-table clash at Oriel Park (2pm).

The Lilywhites trail Sligo by a goal difference of one going into their penultimate game, while the visitors still have two further matches to play, and realistically Martin Connolly's charges must win if they are to have a chance of lifting the title.

Victory for Dundalk on Saturday and in their final game away to Derry City would leave Sligo needing to win both their last two matches to draw level on points, with goal difference then coming into play to decide who finishes top.

'I'm quietly confident,' Connolly said, speaking on Tuesday. ' We were the better team for 75 minutes when we played them up there two weeks ago and tthey snatched an equaliser with five to go, so hopefully we can have a repeat of that performance and not give away a silly goal at the end.'

Dundalk kept alive their league challenge when they came away from Fanad United with a 1-0 win last weekend, Kevin Loughran heading the winner in the 18th minute from a cross by Glen Farrell.

The result was a relief for Connolly, who believes a shake-up to the Under-19 League is necessary to restrict the amount of long-distance travelling teams have to make.

'Going to Fanad is like playing a Europa League game in Iceland. It's horrendous, and to win 1-0 there is always a good result,' he said.

'I'm not a fan of a five-team league where every game is a three-and-a-half or four-hour trip. It's designed as a development league, but I'm not sure we'll be doing much developing if it continues.

'There's talk about them splitting the country in two and bringing in the north Dublin teams. I think they used to do that with the A Championship and it would be a better idea.'