Dundalk captain Andy Boyle is hoping that the Lilywhites’ proud home record will help his team towards another three points when St Patrick’s Athletic visit the Carrick Road this Friday night.
Stephen Kenny’s side have not been unbeaten in an SSE Airtricity League game at Oriel Park since the 2-1 defeat to Limerick in September 27, 2013 when two Rory Gaffney goals effectively handed the league title to Friday’s opponents.
The opening day victory over Longford Town took Dundalk’s unbeaten home run to 19 games. One more will equal the club’s top flight record and Boyle said it was important that Dundalk tried to maintain that aura of invincibility at Oriel if they were to retain their title.
“I wasn’t aware that we were that close to the record,” he told the Dundalk Democrat.
“It’s nice to break records but the most important thing is to win games and get points on the board. It’s going to be a very competitive league this year so any win will be important but, as you say, our home form has been really good over the past year or so. We want to keep Oriel Park as a fortress and have it so that teams hate coming to play us there.”
Liam Buckley’s side were at Oriel just three weeks ago when goals from Daryl Horgan and Richie Towell gave the Lilywhites a 2-1 win in the President’s Cup. It secured Dundalk another piece of silverware but Boyle said that had little relevance going into this week’s league encounter.
“From their point of view they’ll be looking back at that game and thinking it was just another friendly and I suppose whoever lost that game would be taking that viewpoint,” said Boyle.
“If you asked both teams what game would they really want to win, then the answer would always be this game on Friday.
“Every time we play Pat’s it’s a massive game. We’ve has some great clashes with them over the past few years and I’m sure this will be no different.”
Both sides go into the game on the back of victories in their previous outings. Pat’s, who lost their opener against Shamrock Rovers, bounced back with a comfortable 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers at Richmond Park thanks to goals from Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester and Christy Fagan.
Dundalk approach Friday night looking to make it three wins from three after victories over Longford Town and Derry City and Boyle said that last week’s win in The Brandywell will ensure the champions are brimming with confidence going into the Pat’s game.
“After getting beat 4-1 in the opening game by Drogheda last year, getting a good start in the league was something we wanted to do this year. It’s only two wins but the win in Derry especially gives us good confidence going into Friday night.”
A crowd just short of 4,000 filled Oriel Park for the opening game against Longford Town two weeks ago and more are expected for the clash between the league’s last two champions. Games between the sides have been notoriously hard to call in recent years but Boyle said that a full house could tip the pendulum in Dundalk’s favour.
“There was a massive crowd for the Longford game and it was a really pleasant surprise for us when we were going out through the tunnel,” he said.
“If we can get more in then that’s even better because it does make a big difference to us.
“It’s that thing again about making it tough for the opposition, not only are they playing against the champions but they’ve also got hostile fans to contend with.”