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lilies fresh for title tilt

DUNDALK star Richie Towell believes that the league leaders are rested and ready to complete the final stages of their Premier Division title challenge.

It's game number 47 of a busy season for Stephen Kenny's men tonight. They are away to Athlone Town, but have enjoyed a two-week gap since their last match, a 2-0 win at UCD.

Since Dundalk last played, Cork City have been in action and have kept up their challenge to the Co Louth club with a win over Drogheda United - which puts City level on points with Dundalk, though Dundalk have a game in hand.

So it's a big week for Dundalk as wins against Athlone (tonight) and Shamrock Rovers (Monday) would put them within touching distance of the first league success since 1995, and former U21 cap Towell feels that the squad are now ready for the last hurrah.


"We're all really looking forward to the game, the break was much needed to be honest," says Towell, who has started all 29 league games under Kenny this season, one of a handful of outfield players who is an ever-present in the league (alongside Dane Massey, Daryl Horgan and Conan Byrne).

"We've played a lot of games this year and it was good to refresh. We're all itching to get going again now. We're going to go there and try to win and hopefully we can get all three points.

"We're fully focused on winning the next three games. We know we are going to get a tough game there," Towell added.

Dundalk struggled to earn a 1-0 win away to Athlone in April thanks to Towell and he'd settle for a repeat.

"I would love to make the same contribution that I did last time there but it's all about getting the wins to get the title now starting with Athlone this week and we're going there in good form. We got a really tough game down there earlier in the season and we're going to get another one," he says.

Cork remain hot on their heels but Dundalk's opponents tonight, Athlone, have already made their views on the title race known as Athlone's official team bulletin, issued to the media, said this was a game where they "welcome Champions elect Dundalk FC" to the Athlone - words that will not go down well with midlands native John Caulfield, the Cork City boss.

Athlone remain bottom of the table despite a recent six-game unbeaten run and, barring a winning run at the end of the season, a place in the promotion playoffs at the expense of UCD is the best that Town can hope for, UCD now looking like the side most likely to earn automatic relegation.