Tiarnan Mulvenna was part of the last Dundalk team to make the journey south to play Limerick in a League of Ireland game but the surroundings will be slightly different when the Lilywhites return from the mid-season break to face Stuart Taylor’s side on Saturday.
August 29 2008 was the last occasion when the teams played each other in a competitive game. On a cold autumn night, in the bleak surroundings of Jackman Park, the Lilywhites, who went on to win promotion on the final day of that season, were battered as goals from David Ryan and Gary Sheehan gave Limerick a deserved win.
A lot has changed since then. Jackman Park was an intimidating venue for any side. With its notorious dressing rooms and hostile location, not too many looked forward to getting off the bus at the venue.
The same cannot be said of Saturday’s venue, the home of Munster rugby and, for this season, Limerick FC, Thomond Park. And Mulvenna said that he could not wait to perform at one of the most famous stadiums in Europe.
“There’s some difference from the last time alright”, he laughed. “The dressing rooms in Jackman Park were that bad we got changed on the bus. But they are things you get used to seeing in this league.
“Thomond Park will be fantastic. It is a big honour to go there and play. I’ll cherish it and I’ll have great memories but we can’t get too wrapped up in it. The three points is the most important thing.
“The bit of space will suit us. We like to move the ball and opposition about so the big surface should suit us down to the ground.”
Mulvenna and his team-mates returned to training on Sunday and the local striker insists the squad have come back completely focused on maintaining Dundalk’s recent run of form which has seen them put themselves right in the title mix.
“It was a quick week but it’s good to be back. The break would have given a couple of teams the chance to settle down and get things right. We didn’t need to tweak anything but the break is just one of those things. Hopefully we can pick the form back up.
“It’s a very tough one to come back to but our away form is great so we don’t fear going down there. In the game at Oriel Park we were two down and came back to draw 2-2 but we created about 20 chances and should have won the game.
“You don’t know what to expect from them”, he added. “It’s hard to predict what team Stuart Taylor will pick. He has the two lads who are scoring goals for them back from suspension but we shouldn’t be worrying about them. We need to concentrate on ourselves.”
Mulvenna was part of the Drogheda United team which surprised everybody last year by finishing as runners-up. And he said there was no reason why Dundalk could not go one better this season.
“It’s the same situation as last year with Drogheda”, he said. “Nobody seems to be giving us a sniff of winning the league even though we are on a great run. Everybody is still talking about the likes of Shamrock Rovers who are behind us but we’re quite happy to let them talk like that.
“Everybody has had a nice break but we are all back and raring to go.”
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