Kenny won’t show his hand in Malone Cup

Dundalk's Brian Gartland shields the ball from Limerick's Samuel Oji at Oriel Park
The stormy weather that has battered the country in recent days meant that Dundalk FC had to pull the plug on a proposed training camp in Bunclody, Co Wexford last weekend.

The stormy weather that has battered the country in recent days meant that Dundalk FC had to pull the plug on a proposed training camp in Bunclody, Co Wexford last weekend.

Instead, Stephen Kenny’s first-team squad travelled to Enfield, Co Meath, where, according to the Lilywhites boss, “they packed a lot of work in over the space of two days.”

Dundalk are building towards their first competitive game of the season, against Coleraine in the Setanta Cup on February 24, and Kenny has expressed his satisfaction at the preparations thus far.

“There are good pitches in Enfield so we managed to get a lot of good work done,” commented the Dundalk boss on Monday afternoon.

“Everybody is really focused. The experience of last season means that every member of the squad just wants the season to start.”

Stephen O’Donnell, who missed the friendly with Wexford Youths last Tuesday night with a hamstring strain, is in line to start against Drogheda United in this Friday night’s Malone Cup tie at United Park.

Likewise, Brian Gartland is expected to make his first appearance of the year after recovering from a nose operation. The only negatives from the weekend were a knock to Daryl Horgan which prevented him from playing any part and the withdrawal of Sean Gannon from the camp due to a bereavement.

Both Louth clubs will meet again on the first night of the season in just over four weeks and Kenny doesn’t expect to learn too much about the Drogs this Friday.

“It would be unrealistic to think that we, or they, are going to show our hand before the league game,” he said. “It’s an unusual situation because we play them, at the same venue, in the first game so we will utilize our squad fully.”

The Malone Cup represents the start of a busy period for the Lilywhites. The club are working on arranging another friendly for Tuesday, February 11 with a game against the local Tommy McConville Select XI to follow three days later. Dundalk then travel to face St Patrick’s Athletic in the Leinster Senior Cup on Monday, February 17.

“We have our schedule made out and we are planning an intensive season,” said Kenny.

“Every member of the squad will be utilized so it’s important that we get match practice before the Setanta Cup. If we do well this year we are looking at playing a lot of games on a Friday and Monday so we everybody will play a vital part.”

One man who won’t be playing a part for Dundalk this season is Graham Fisher. The Canadian played against Wexford Youths but Kenny has opted against signing the attacker and he played for Finn Harps in a friendly on Sunday.