Eyes are on the prize for Dundalk with title in view
Dundalk insist that nothing will keep them off the path on their way to the league title as Cork City's reign prepares to end.
City's time as champions effectively ended in Friday night when Dundalk won 1-0 in Turner's Cross, giving Dundalk a nine-point lead over their closest rivals.
A win at home to Derry City tonight (8pm, live on Eir Sport 1) would all but seal the deal as Stephen Kenny's outfit would be 12 points ahead, with four games to play, and a far superior goal difference.
"It's important that we keep our level of performance up, we have set such high standards in recent times," manager Kenny said.
"It's not done yet but we are nearly there," says striker Patrick Hoban.
"With four games to go, I would like to fancy us winning the league, to be honest. But we still have a job to do and we must still be professional.
"The Derry game is massive for us and we've got to get the job done. If we get the three points then it's probably over due to the goal difference."
Even if Dundalk lost all five remaining games starting tonight, the life seems to have been sucked out of the Cork City camp and a Cork side who are without a win in four are unlikely to go on a winning streak.
For Hoban, who rejoined Dundalk at the start of this season after an unhappy spell in England, the imminent title success vindicates the Galway native's decision to come 'home' to Louth.
"At the start of the season I set myself a target to win trophies and I knew that there was a lot of capability in this squad to do that," says Hoban. "And with the desire and drive that Stephen Kenny has got and the work that he puts into the team, you are always going to be there or there abouts, as the season went along I fancied us to win the league."
Dundalk fans will relish the occasion but another game in midweek is the last thing that a jaded-looking Derry need, and most fans there eager for a forgettable season to end.
TEAM NEWS: Dundalk are at full strength bar Stephen O'Donnell and Karolis Chvedukas. Conor McDermott and Dan Seaborne are absent for Derry, who may ring the changes after four straight league defeats.
MATCH POINT: A big night in a big week for Dundalk as a win here would all but guarantee them the league title, because only an astonishing collapse in the last four games could see them denied. City, morale low and with fans unhappy, have leaked eight goals in their last two meetings with Dundalk and hard to see anything other than a home win.
REFEREE: Paul McLaughlin
BETTING: Dundalk 1/5, Derry 12/1, draw 11/2
VERDICT: Dundalk win