Dundalk will be without their captain Andy Boyle for this Friday’s crucial SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash against champions St Pat’s through suspension.
The former UCD man was booked by referee Jim McKell in his side’s recent 5-2 win over UCD and then picked up a second yellow card late on for a foul on Samir Belhout.
McKell failed to send off Boyle for the offence but the league’s disciplinary panel have since caught up with the Lilywhites centre-back and issued him with a one match suspension, coming into immediate effect.
It is believed that the referee had thought that the initial yellow card he had shown Boyle was given to left-back Dane Massey who wears number 14 in opposition to Boyle’s number 4.
The club had hoped that there may be grounds for Boyle to avoid a suspension based on previous cases but following a meeting between the FAI Disciplinary Committee and the FAI Elite Referees Committee, Boyle was ruled out of the Lilywhites’ next league game.
“It was strange and confusing to be honest,” said Boyle of the incident.
“I was then gutted to get the news I’d be suspended for Pat’s with it being such a big game before the break but that’s the way it is.
“I didn’t know what to expect given that I wasn’t sent off on the pitch so to hear that I would be missing it is pretty devastating but there is not a lot you can do about it now.”
Those sentiments were echoed by his manager who acknowledges that there is nothing left for Dundalk to do but attempt to deal with the situation as best they can.
“The decision is made now and there is nothing that can be done about it,” shrugged Stephen Kenny. “It is what it is, we will have to deal with it now.
“We will revise [our plans] and we have players in that position like Mark Rossiter and Simon Kelly who are good players for us who can come in.”
It is expected that club vice-captain Rossiter will be the man to take the place of Boyle for the game against the Saints and partner Brian Gartland at the centre of defence.
Kenny is also mindful of the heavy fixture load that is set to come Dundalk’s way following the summer break but is not looking past this Friday’s match where he hopes a bumper crowd will pack out Oriel Park to make it a memorable occasion.
“Friday will mark us reaching the halfway stage which shows you just how much football there still is to be played,” he said. “We will hopefully have a European campaign to look forward to rather than just a match in that competition.
“We are also in the next round of the FAI Cup and the semi-finals of the EA Sports Cup but the league is the most important thing for us which makes the game against the champions a huge one.
“It would be nice to get a record crowd at the game for the time I’ve been here because the players have been nothing short of fantastic and are eager to keep it all going.”