Jim Magilton talks Sonia Hoey, Drogheda United, the chairman and the fans ahead of Louth Derby tonight

Niall Newberry


Niall Newberry

Jim Magilton to be in the dugout tonight as Dundalk search for their first win of the season at the Brandywell

Dundalk FC Sporting Director Jim Magilton, watching on the action from the stands

Dundalk FC host neighbours Drogheda United on Saturday (kick-off, 6pm) at Oriel Park in what will be the first Louth derby to be played in the SSE Airtricity League in four years.

The Lilywhites came desperately close to what would have been their first win of the new season on Tuesday night against Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

David McMillan put Dundalk ahead on 53 minutes, but another mistake from goalkeeper Alessio Abibi afforded Cameron McJannett and Derry an equaliser just past the hour-mark.

Dundalk are selling virtual tickets for Saturday’s game with Drogheda to raise funds for the ‘Save Our Sonia’ campaign in aid of Sonia Hoey, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Sonia – who memorably scored the winning goal of the 2005 FAI Women’s Cup final for Dundalk – requires specialised treatment in Mexico which could help to prolong her life.

At the time of writing, more than €100,000 has already been raised for Sonia’s campaign.

“It’s one that we’re looking forward to,” said caretaker manager Jim Magilton.

“Obviously there’s a special meaning with Sonia. It’s a massive game for all different aspects. Sonia has been a fantastic servant to this football club and we’re all rooting for her and this is an important game for that."

“From a football point of view, we haven’t won a game and there’s no better game. There was good things at Derry, but we’ve got to build on that and we’ve got to win."

“The pressure is on our players and at the end of the day, if they can’t deal with that pressure, then they shouldn’t be at this football club with all respect.”

A third mistake in five appearances from Abibi on Tuesday night has led to calls for veteran stopper Peter Cherrie to be reinstated for the match against Drogheda on Saturday evening.

Magilton added: “That’s the wonderful thing about football. It’s opinions and everybody has an opinion."

“We’re missing fans for example. We desperately need our fans back into the building and opinions is part and parcel to that. Regardless of what’s happened in the past, we’ve got to move on."

“We really got to focus on the next game and there is no better game than Drogheda. It’s a derby, we welcome them back, it’s fantastic to see them in the top division again and it’s going to be a tough game for us.”

Once again, much criticism has been directed at the club’s owners, Peak6, and chairman Bill Hulsizer in recent weeks, but Magilton has opted to defend the American-based consortium.

“I don’t know (if they would pull out), but the point is that they have spent so much money, so that shows that their heart and soul is in this football club."

“It might not appear that way, but I can tell you they watch every game and they wear their heart on their sleeve and their first thought is Dundalk and they want Dundalk to be a success both on and off the pitch."

“The very fact that it’s been suggested that there is a loss of connection between the club and community will upset them. That will upset the chairman and that will upset the directors."

“The chairman wears his heart on his sleeve and his only thought is the welfare of this football club and the welfare of the players and to try and help both managers and staff to give them an environment to go and succeed. Ultimately, we’re focused on the game.”

Patrick Hoban, Daniel Kelly and Brian Gartland are all out injured for the game against Drogheda, while Faroe Islands international Sonni Nattestad is once again doubtful.