St Patrick's Athletic begin the defence of their EA Sports Cup title as they travel to face league champions Dundalk in Oriel Park on Monday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Saints will be looking to defend the trophy they won thanks to Conor O'Malley's penalty heroics in a 4-3 win on penalties against Galway United in Eamonn Deacy Park last September.
In team news, the Saints are without O'Malley who continues to recover from an ankle injury, while skipper Ger O'Brien also sits out the game with his own ankle problem. Saints' top-scorer Christy Fagan faces a late fitness test on a knock suffered in the 4-0 win last Friday against Wexford Youths, while Saints' manager Liam Buckley will also make a late decision on the fitness of Darren Dennehy who is close to a return to full fitness.
"I was obviously very happy with the result on Friday against Wexford," Buckley stated when speaking to stpatsfc.com. "It sets us up nicely for Monday night against Dundalk, with the lads now looking to defend the trophy we won last year."
"We got some fantastic results last year on the way to winning the EA Sports Cup with wins over Cork, Shamrock Rovers and then away to Galway in the final. It gave us a good boost last year so we'll be taking Monday's game seriously and look to defend our title."
For Saints' defender Lee Desmond, the game is one he is again looking forward to as it presents him with another chance to get game time under his belt, as well as the chance to defend a trophy he played a key role in winning last year having played at centre half in the Saints' success in Galway.
"It was great to get my first game of the season in against Wexford as I've been working hard with the physios to get right and fully fit. I've only been back properly with the team for about two weeks so to get the chance from the gaffer was great and hopefully I can get more minutes under my belt on Monday.
"It's a big game for us as we're defending champions and we're up against a great side in Dundalk so Liam has us ready for a tough game. As players you want to win things and this competition gives us a chance to do that."
Despite the Saints having lost 4-0 recently to the Lilywhites, Desmond outlined that the Saints are full of belief that they can get a result in Oriel Park and reach the next round of the competition.
"That game before Good Friday against Dundalk was an odd one as after an hour of the game, I thought we were well in it and were on top for spells of the game. We were right in there but they got a few chances and punished us.
"We know that when you play against Dundalk you have to be on your game for 90 minutes so we'll be looking to compete for the whole game and stay fully concentrated. If we can do that and limit any mistakes, we have a chance."
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