By Ed Leahy
The first Louth derby of this year’s Airtricity League campaign takes place tonight as Dundalk welcome Drogheda United to Oriel Park, kick-off 7:45pm.
Stephen Kenny’s new-look Lilywhites can move to within two points of league leaders Sligo Rovers with victory over their Wee County rivals.
Skipper Stephen O’Donnell looks set to miss out for the home side as he is recovering from a calf injury.
Dundalk have two wins and a draw in their opening four games of the season with their only defeat coming against champions Sligo.
Tonight’s fixture should be a tight affair with the home side a completely different proposition from the struggling side of last season.
Manager Kenny has his side playing neat attractive football and they will get goals from all over the pitch with John Dillon, John Mountney and Kurtis Byrne all showing impressive early season form.
Drogheda keeper Gabriel Sava was the hero as Cooke’s side held on for a point in Derry and the keeper may need to be at his best at the Dundalk venue tonight.
The visitors have plenty of firepower in their ranks and will be keen to hold on to the bragging rights after dominating their near neighbours last season.However, Alan McNally, Gary O'Neill and Derek Prendergast remain out for Mick Cooke’s side for the trip to Oriel.
And despite losing their opening league game at St Pat’s, Drogheda have remained unbeaten in their three subsequent league games, drawing with impressive Derry and Limerick sides, before beating Bray Wanderers on Sunday.
Cooke said: “It’s always nice to get the first win on the board but I was particularly pleased with how the team played. We dominated the majority of the game and created a lot of chances, which is something we have been working on in training. But we now have to put that to one side and try and build on it with another win on Thursday night.
“The games against Dundalk are always big occasions and weather permitting I hope there will be a big turnout, especially as both of us won at the weekend.
“We hold the upper hand from last season, but form does go out the window in derby games. Stephen has put together a new squad and there are new faces in our team also.”