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29 Sept 2022

Vital nine days for Dundalk begins with trip to Drogheda for Louth Derby

Vital nine days for Dundalk begins with trip to Drogheda for Louth Derby

Sami Ben Amar of Dundalk in action against Conor Kane of Drogheda United. (Pic: Sportsfile)

The SSE Airtricity League season will reach it's conclusion next week and it will be a busy period for Dundalk FC who will play three games in nine days as they look to finish the season on a high note following a year many fans of the Lilywhites will be hoping to forget.

Vinny Perth's troops begin this journey away to local rivals Drogheda United, with the 167th Louth Derby taking place tonight (Kick off 7:45PM), before they finish the season off with two home games on Sunday and Friday against Longford Town and Derry City.

A win tonight would see them leapfrog the Drogs and go sixth in the table and just two points behind fourth place Derry whom they play on the final night of the season. The Dubliner is targeting nine points from these games as they look to push up the table but stressed for it was important not to look past a dangerous Drogheda outfit.

“We have to be careful and not look past what has been a very difficult fixture against Drogheda this season but I think as a team we have to finish as strongly as we can,” stated Perth when speaking to the club's media team on Wednesday afternoon.

“Three wins in our last three games would leave us on 51 points and I think it would take a good run from everyone else to knock us out of fourth place if we did that.

“That is the goal,” he added. “If we win in Drogheda it will move us up a spot in the table and then we can look at finishing in fourth. I believe this team deserves to finish on a high.”

Such has been the competitive nature of the season, Dundalk hace gone from being in a dogfight for survival on the cusps of a relegation play off to floating around the mid table hunting for fourth spot something which seemed so far away a few months earlier.

Derry City in fourth place are just eight points clear of Finn Harps in second bottom, showing the closeness of the table this season and this something that hasn't surprised Perth.

“I’ve been talking about it for weeks. Every team is capable of going on an unbeaten three or four-game run and every team is capable of losing three or four games in a row.

“If you look at Shamrock Rovers, they are probably the most stable club in the league and they deserve to be champions but apart from them, there is not a lot between all of the rest of the teams so the nature of the table doesn’t surprise me.”

The Louth rivals have locked horns four times already this season this season. Shane Keegan and Filippo Giovagnoli led the club 3-2 win on Boyneside as they took home the Jim Malone Cup as part of their pre season preparations.

By the time  side next clashed the managerial merry ground saw Jim Magilton take charge for their meeting  in Oriel Park last April, a game which saw Korean Han Jeongwoo bag the winner.

By the time of the return fixture in Head in the Game Park, Vinny Perth had returned to club and in just his second game back guided the Lilywhites to a another 1-0 victory courtesy of a goal from Michael Duffy.

However it was the men from down the M1 who took the honours when they last met, a Mark Doyle brace enough to seal the points despite Duffy managing to pull one back in what was ultimately a 2-1 loss.

Incidentally, the last time Dundalk were beaten in a league game in Drogheda was on the opening night of the 2014 season when the hosts won 4-1. Peter Cherrie, Andy Boyle, Patrick Hoban and David McMillan all featured for Dundalk that night.

Around 600 Lilywhites are expected to make the short journey to support Dundalk and Perth is pleased to have them along for what he expects to be another hotly contest derby.

“The derby is all about the fans,” he said. “For us, it’s a very difficult game, and we have to understand what Drogheda will do but we have tried to put some pride back in the jersey and I know our fans would love three points against the local rivals.”

Greg Sloggett will be assessed ahead of the game after coming off in the 1-0 win over Waterford last Friday night while Sam Stanton, who missed that fixture with a strain, is also touch and go.

Brian Gartland, Patrick McEleney and Wilfried Zahibo are still sidelined while Vinny Perth will also have to plan without Raivis Jurkovskis, who returned to Latvia on Wednesday following the sudden passing of his father.

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