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Major test for Saints

CHAMPIONS St Patrick’s Athletic travel up the M1 tonight to face league leaders Dundalk in the final round of SSE Airtricity League games before the two-week summer break.

Six points separate the sides at present before what is the third meeting between the clubs this year - the Saints claiming a 2-1 Leinster Senior Cup win over Stephen Kenny’s side in February, while the Lilywhites ran out 4-1 winners in Richmond Park in the league game back in April.

Saints’ manager Liam Buckley expects Friday’s game to be of a high standard to rival recent clashes between the two sides, with little separating the sides at the end.

“The meetings between us recently have been really tight and competitive games, so I’d see no reason why it won’t be exactly the same again,” said Buckley.

“Dundalk will have a big crowd behind them on the night, and I know we’ll have decent numbers up in Oriel Park too.

“Both sides have been playing well lately so again it’s a game to relish and the lads will be looking to produce a performance and try and get a result.”

Saints defender Sean Hoare will miss out due to an ankle injury picked up against St Pat’s CY in last week’s 3-0 FAI Ford Cup win.

Ger O’Brien will face a late fitness test on a foot injury, while former Lilywhite Derek Foran comes back into contention having made a return to training this week.

The threat that Dundalk pose is nothing new to Saints’ midfielder and Drogheda native, Killian Brennan.


“The game can be built up to be massive before we go into the break, but the lads are just training away, keeping the heads down and working as we normally do.

“There’s no pressure on us as we’re the away side going there in a one off game, trying to get a result.”

With both sides in free-scoring form lately, Brennan admitted that a game without any action or incident was not what he was expecting .

“I don’t see it being a 0-0, we’ve been scoring a lot of goals lately, and Dundalk have been doing well too.

“It’ll be another tight one and it could come down to one moment be it a mistake, set-piece or something like that - the games recently have gone that way.

“But whatever happens, we’ll go into the game positive like we always do.”

Elsehwere, Shamrock Rovers host Cork City at Tallaght Stadium (8.0).

Luke Byrne (knee) and Stephen McPhail (rib) both remain out of the Hoops squad through injury, which Gary McCabe is suspended.

Hoops boss Trevor Croly said: “We didn’t play well down in Cork earlier in the season and we were very disappointed with the result in that game.

“But we recognised what we needed to work on and we did that and have played much better since that game.

“Now this fixture is a direct chance for us to correct that performance and result and go into the break in the league on a positive note.”