Massey revved up for delayed Rovers battle
In a league where the top teams tend to cross paths on a regular basis, it's somewhat surprising that tonight's Oriel Park clash between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers is just their second meeting this year.
Twelve months ago, they couldn't avoid each other, with Pat Fenlon's arrival in the Rovers hot-seat bringing him quickly into direct contact with his old sparring partner Stephen Kenny.
He brought the Hoops up the M1 for defeat in the EA Sports Cup, victory in the FAI Cup and a draw in the league that was unable to halt Dundalk's march to the crown.
This rescheduled fixture, moved from July because of European commitments, will shape the rest of the campaign for Fenlon's charges.
If they can win and close the gap between themselves and the runaway leaders to nine points, they'll have an outside chance of making a late run at the title - especially as the sides meet again in Tallaght on October 9.
Dundalk, on the other hand, know that a positive result will put Rovers out of the picture.
The home bench would enjoy doing that: there's a healthy rivalry between the camps that was evident in a thrilling 2-2 draw in Dublin earlier this year that swung on a red card for visiting stopper Gary Rogers when the champions were two up.
Lilywhites defender Dane Massey expects that the visitors will travel with the intention of making it difficult.
"Pat has them well organised," he said, "I'm sure he had someone watching us against Bohs on Friday (2-2 draw) so they'll have their own game-plan coming to Oriel and it's up to us to break them down.
"They've an excellent team, they've got a lot of senior players and Damien Duff is a massive bonus for them. It will be a very tough game for us."
Duff made his first start for the Hoops in Sligo on Saturday, a game that finished in a 1-1 draw. Dundalk left it late to rescue a point from Bohs, who Massey describes as their 'bogey team', but he feels that the extra window for recuperation may help the freshness levels.
"We've 24 hours recovery on them and we've got to make sure it counts and that the point against Bohs counts," Massey stressed.
"This is a massive game because Rovers will fancy their chances to go with us. Rovers are on a good run. If we get a win against Rovers, then Friday was a massive result. But they will fancy their chances in Oriel."
A lively affair is guaranteed.
Dundalk v Shamrock Rvs
Live Setanta Irl, 8.0