Billy Dennehy believes that Dundalk remain the team to stop this year despite their loss to his former club Cork City last Friday night.
Dennehy joined St Patrick’s Athletic over the winter along with his brother Darren after a turbulent final year on Leeside and is looking to follow the example of his former colleagues by finding a way to take down the champions when they come to Inchicore tonight for a fixture that has been rescheduled because of Ireland’s Good Friday friendly with Switzerland.
The hosts will be full of confidence after their win in Tallaght which means that, like the visitors, they have taken nine points from four games.
“For me, they are still the team to beat in the league,” says Dennehy. “But I think last week’s result against Shamrock Rovers showed we have a good team who are capable of getting results. The win was down to a lot of hard work.
His manager Liam Buckley was enthused by the fact that the Inchicore side could emerge from the Dublin derby with a win despite some teething problems.
“Our ball retention and general play wasn’t where we’d want it to be yet,” he said. “But I thought the players worked tirelessly in defence and off the ball and got the reward when the chances came our way.
Dundalk ’keeper Gary Rogers prepared for this game by spending Monday and Tuesday training with the Ireland senior squad after an invitation from goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh.
They met at the Soccer Writers Association of Ireland banquet in January, where Rogers picked up the goalkeeper of the year award, and the invitation came from there. Martin O’Neill praised the 34-year-old yesterday.
“He did excellently,” said O’Neill, “I think there’s no question he could have played across the channel on the couple of days I’ve seen him.”
Rogers was grateful for the opportunity but will now have to concentrate on stopping the in-form Christy Fagan, who has scored a goal in each of the four Saints’ outings so far this term.
Meanwhile, Waterford United boss Roddy Collins intends to appeal a six-game touchline ban and a €1,500 fine from the FAI for comments he made in his newspaper column about the state of the game. Collins referred to the League of Ireland as a ‘shambles’ and said it would be lost without voluntary workers and supporters who keep the show on the road. His words did not go down well in Abbotstown.