- Wednesday March 23rd, 2016 @ 13:58
TEAM NEWS: Saints Vs Dundalk (Thursday, Richmond Park 7.45pm)
St Patrick's Athletic host SSE Airtricity League champions Dundalk this Thursday as Liam Buckley's Saints look to continue their recent good form (kick-off Richmond Park, 7.45pm).
The Saints are aiming for a fourth win in a row following victories over Longford Town, Bohemian FC and Shamrock Rovers, while contrastly opponents Dundalk will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Cork City last Friday in Oriel Park.
The Lilywhites have had the upperhand over the Saints in recent times, claiming three league wins and a Leinster Senior Cup victory last season against Liam Buckley's side.
Looking ahead to Thursday's game in Inchicore, Saints' manager Buckley outlined his happiness at the Saints recent winning form, but was also measured in his assessment of the start of the season saying that his side had much to work on.
"I was delighted with our win in Tallaght last Friday. Our ball retention and general play wasn't where we'd want it to be yet, but I thought the players worked tirelessly in defence and off the ball and got their reward when the chances came our way," Buckley said when speaking to stpatsfc.com.
"We know we've to work on a few things and hopefully the players will improve given time. We've another tough game on Thursday against Dundalk, who are again one of the leading sides in the league this season.
Stephen has retained nearly all of his squad so we know that we need to put in a high level of performance if we are to have a chance of getting a result.
"The players have trained well though all week and we will be going out to get a result on Thursday night."
In team news, Buckley has been boosted with the return to training of Jamie McGrath, goalkeeper Conor O'Malley made his return to the squad last week, while Michael Barker is also in the running to feature after an injury lay-off.
Buckley remains without the services of midfielder Jack Bayly, while defender Sean Hoare misses out due to his involvement with the Republic of Ireland U21 squad in their UEFA U21 Qualifying Round Group 2 fixture against Italy in the RSC, Waterford on Thursday.
Ahead of Thursday's game, Saints' winger Billy Dennehy is well aware of the threat Stephen Kenny's side pose having been involved in many high profile clashes against the Lilywhites for former side Cork City. However after three recent victories, the Tralee native is hopeful that the Saints can get a result against Dundalk.
"I think last week's result against Shamrock Rovers showed that we have a good team who are capable of getting results. The win was done to a lot of hard work, and we know we have to do that every week in training and in matches as this league is very tough," Dennehy admitted to stpatsfc.com.
"We've a lot of tough games to come so we know we just have to focus on each game. That's the case for the Dundalk game on Thursday. They've had a decent start to the season, and for me are still the team to beat in the league."
Having joined the Saints alongside brother Darren from Cork City, Dennehy was quick to praise his teammates and the coaching staff at St Pat's for ensuring the transition into the squad and move back up to Dublin from Kerry has been a good experience.
"Ever since day one of pre-season training, it's been great to be at Pat's. I feel like I've settled quickly into things here and with a turnover of players on what was here last year, it appears to be a fresh squad that Liam has put together.
It's been going really so far and the club, staff and supporters have been great so hopefully we can keep working hard together and get results on the pitch."