Richmond Park is the venue for Friday's high profile top of the table Airtricity League clash as league leaders St Patrick's Athletic host second placed Dundalk.
With only goal difference separating the sides at present and with just six round of league fixtures remaining this season, Friday's game is selling well so home supporters are urged to leave plenty of time to purchase their tickets before kick-off.
The Saints will be looking for a change of fortune against the Lilywhites having suffered narrow 2-1 defeats both in Richmond Park and Oriel Park earlier in the season. Dundalk meanwhile will be looking to maintain their winning run which has seen them claim 7 wins in their last 8 league games.
For Saints' defender Ger O'Brien, Friday's showdown between first and second is one he is relishing as the Saints look to maintain top spot with a result against Stephen Kenny's side. “We're coming into the final strait now, six games to go, so every game is important regardless of the opposition,” O'Brien told stpatsfc.com.
“Obviously though, Friday's game is being built up as it is first against second. There'll be no need to motivate the lads in the dressing room on Friday as we're all looking forward to it and know there'll be a big crowd at it. It also gives us a chance to bounce back from the Rovers defeat last week and right some wrongs from the previous Dundalk games this season.”
For left back Ian Bermingham, who is set for a 150th appearance for the Saints, while Friday's game is important, he believes there will be further shifts in the balance of power to determine who will claim the league title after the Dundalk clash.
“For whoever wins the game, it would leave them in a good position. But Sligo are still involved in the title race too, so I reckon there'll be further twists and turns before the end of the season. It'll still be a three horse race after Friday," he told stpatsfc.com.
In team news, the Saints are without Greg Bolger through suspension, while Stephen Maher is out for the remainder of the season with a leg break. Elsewhere Saints' midfielders Killian Brennan and Shane McFaul will undergo late fitness tests having both been substituted with injuries in last week's FAI Ford Cup game with Shamrock Rovers.
“We've six big games left this season, so Dundalk is the first of them this Friday and with the greatest respect to the teams we're to play, we'll have to get points in all our remaining games. Ourselves, Dundalk and Sligo, we've all got tough run-ins left,” Buckley told stpatsfc.com.
Buckley admitted that motivation levels in his squad would not be lacking as his side look to claim the win and open up a three point gap at the top of the table. “If you're not hyped up for a game like this, playing a team joint top of the table and just six games to go, you should just go buy yourself a snooker cue or a tennis racket.”
“It means so much to the club, our supporters, sponsors, everyone associated with St. Pat's. From the dressing room perspective, we've worked hard all year to get into this position so we just need to seize the moment and carry things on for the remaining games.”
“Our fans have been really great in getting behind us all year, making the trips to Cork, Derry, Sligo, even as far as Lithuania! So if they can get behind us on Friday night, stay with the team and stay patient, their support could make all the difference.”
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