Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell is counting down the minutes until his side take to the field for their do-or-die league encounter against Cork City.
The Leesiders capitalised on O’Donnell and co’s slip up in Bray with a 1-0 win over Bohemians at Turner’s Cross, Billy Dennehy’s fortunate goal putting them in pole position to claim the title in Oriel Park on Friday night.
The game will be the first time the top two have faced each other in a title decider since 2005 and O’Donnell said he could not wait to feature in such an event.
“I can’t wait for the game, I really am looking forward to it,” he said. “You will probably never ever play in a game like this again. All the cards are on the table, I can’t say it enough but I really cannot wait for it. It is one of the biggest games this league has saw in years.”
“The fact of the matter is if we beat Cork, we will win the league,” he said matter-of-factly. “They know a draw will do them so it is all to play for,” he added excitedly.
“It will be great occasion for the league, hopefully it gets a bit of interest going. It isn’t often that you get a league decider between the two teams on the last day so we are all really excited about it and there will be no excuses.”
After seeing a six point lead overthrown, people outside of the Dundalk camp have started to question the mental strength of the Lilywhites squad. O’Donnell, however, was adamant that Dundalk had the nerve and ‘bottle’ to finish the job.
“Our squad might be young but we play with no fear. We have been brilliant all season and worked our socks off so there will be no fear of us freezing. We will be busting to get out of the traps and get going.”
While the former Cork City player did admit his side would prefer to be in the position of needing only a point themselves, there is no doubt that this is a position Dundalk players would have been delighted to accept when the campaign kicked off in March.
“Obviously you would like to go into the last game with that cushion of the draw but if you were offered the chance of a victory on the last day to win you the league, I would have snapped the hand off you.
“We would be very confident that we can beat anyone when we play well and that is what we will look to do.”
EXTRA Bray game if needed
Of the biblical Bray downpour that has hurt his side’s ambitions a little, O’Donnell is not getting too despondent about the dropped points and he prefers to look at Cork coming up than back on Bray.
“You’re always up against it when you go 1-0 down especially in a gale-force wind like we experienced. We tried hard but it wasn’t a night for footballers.
“It was the worst conditions of the season and we never really had a foothold in the game to try and go on from there,” reflected the club captain.
“Maybe we could have played the percentages and the conditions a lot better and got the ball forward quicker but its the way it goes, it is just one of those games and we can only look ahead now.”