Dundalk on the road for much of pre-season
Dundalk returned to training on Saturday afternoon but it looks like supporters will have limited opportunities to watch Stephen Kenny’s double winners in action at Oriel Park before the SSE Airtricity League season begins.
Kenny is hoping to play seven pre-season games before his side begin their quest for three-in-a-row with the trip to Bray Wanderers on Saturday, March 5 but five of those matches are expected to be away from home.
Games in Limerick and Waterford have been earmarked while Dundalk have also been drawn away in three pre-season cup fixtures.
“Everything has yet to be finalised but we won’t have too many games at Oriel Park. We could end up with five away games and only two at home,” Kenny told the Dundalk Democrat after the first training session at DkIT Sport.
“UCD may come to play in Oriel Park but The Malone Cup is in Drogheda, we’ve got Shelbourne away in the Leinster Senior Cup and then there is the controversial decision to play the President’s Cup in Cork.
“It always appeared that the league winners would get home advantage but that’s not written in the rules and the decision has been made to play it in Cork. Whether that was lobbied or not I don’t know but we will make sure we are well prepared for it.”
The Dundalk squad were put through their paces by Strength and Conditioning Coach Graham Byrne with Andy Boyle — for the second year in succession — outlasting everybody to win the bleep test.
“It was a quick turnaround this year and we have to make sure we are ready again this season,” said Kenny. “It’s too early to make big predictions and statements. We just want to make sure we have a strong pre-season.
“There are new challenges and the players have come back in good condition. Year on year we want our standards to rise and that was a good first day for us.”
Sean Gannon was the only player who sat out the session. The full-back is still recovering from the ankle injury that he picked up in the FAI Cup final against Cork City in November and is not expected to return until mid-February.
“Sean will miss a few more weeks,” said Kenny. “He has bad bruising to the bone which doesn’t sound much but it’s a 12 week injury. It’s something I haven’t come across too much but Fearghal Kerin, our physio, has seen it and it needs time to recover.”
New signings Patrick McEleney and Robbie Benson were both on show, wearing the no 11 and no 18 training kits respectively. Youngster Georgie Poynton wore no 17, vacated by Richie Towell, but it has yet to be confirmed if they are the squad numbers that have been assigned for the upcoming season.