06 Oct 2022

Stephen O’Donnell hopeful of first away win as Dundalk head to UCD

Stephen O'Donnell vs St Pats

Dundalk FC Head coach Stephen O'Donnell. (Pic; Sportsfile)

Stephen O’Donnell wants to turn Oriel Park into a fortress, but accepts away form has to improve ahead of their next SSE Airtricity League fixture at UCD this coming weekend.

A comprehensive 4-1 win for The Lilywhites over Louth rivals Drogheda United means that no team has collected more points on their home patch than Dundalk this season.

However, O’Donnell’s side are still awaiting their first win on the road, with bottom-of-table UCD next on the agenda at the UCD Bowl on Friday night (kick-off, 7.45pm).

Speaking after their latest win over Drogheda, the Dundalk head coach said: “I think we’ve played seven have we at home? Won five and drawn two.

“It is something that we need to rectify (away form), but first and foremost, we want our home ground to become a bit of a fortress and a cauldron. We want teams afraid of coming here. We started that off well, so the next bit now is our away form.

“We want people coming up that M1 anticipating a really tough game. We want the mindset where they’ll be delighted coming away with a point, so we want to create this place. We want teams coming with that mentality, so it’s up to us to create that tempo and intensity.

“The crowd feed off that and then you get what you got tonight and everyone’s in it together. I wouldn’t say that was the most enjoyable game for Drogheda to play in.”

Having acquired a meagre four points from their 13 fixtures played, winless UCD come into this game against in-form Dundalk having conceded a staggering ten goals in their most recent two matches – losing 7-1 and 3-0 at Derry City and Bohemians respectively.

However, O’Donnell is taking nothing for granted ahead of Dundalk’s first visit to the UCD Bowl since 2019, insisting The Students are a much different proposition at home.

“They’re very competitive at home, they’ve been competitive in all their home games. We’ll recover tomorrow and have a good training week and look forward to the game.”

Ex-UCD alumnus Robbie Benson could return to the Dundalk fold on Friday after missing the last three matches with a hamstring injury sustained against Sligo Rovers.

On the same night, Dan Williams left the ground on crutches with an ankle injury, with O’Donnell confirming the Welsh loanee will be out of action for at least four more weeks.  

“Dan will be out for a significant enough period of time,” he said. “We don’t know for sure, but he’ll be out for the foreseeable future anyway. The next month at least he’ll be out for.

“He’s back in Swansea now. Duty of care, the parent club obviously, when he gets an injury like that, he goes back and then they assess him. Ultimately, it’s their decision what they do recovery wise.”

In more positive news for Dundalk, John Mountney could feature for the first time since returning to the club from St Patrick’s Athletic, while winger Steven Bradley is also available again after missing the win over Drogheda due to a one-match suspension.

Friday’s game between Dundalk and UCD is to be refereed by Damien MacGraith (Mayo) and will be streamed via the LOITV online platform, with match passes costing €7 each.

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