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O’DONNELL UNHAPPY WITH FIXTURES SCHEDULING

By John Hudson

As Stephen O’Donnell prepares to take his unbeaten St Patrick’s
Athletic side out of the capital for the first time this season to
face Dundalk, the Saints head coach highlighted the inequality in the
upcoming fixtures schedule.

O’Donnell returns to his old stomping ground at Oriel Park this
Saturday evening (6.0 live on WATCHLOI) to face a Dundalk team
struggling to find some form and languishing towards the foot of the
Premier Division table with just one point from their four opening
games.

All the Premier Division clubs are heading into nearly a game every
few days from now until the June break, apart from a couple of weeks,
with the midweek fixtures kicking off on Tuesday next.

It’s a hectic period for clubs but it’s the scheduling of the fixtures
that hasn’t impressed the St Pat’s boss.

“Heading into three games in six days you are not going to get players
to play at their peak or near their peak three times in six days.
You’re going to have to look at fresh legs at some stage. Obviously,
Saturday will determine a good bit for Tuesday and visa versa.

“What I wouldn’t agree with is if you are going to have a three game
in six days schedule everyone should play on Friday, Tuesday and the
following Friday.

“We have a situation this time where Waterford our opponents next
Tuesday played on Friday evening while we have to play on Saturday.

“I can’t understand with such a quick turnaround you can’t give a team
an extra day, a full 24 hours rest against another team you are going
to be playing against on a Tuesday.

“I think there can be a bit more thought process put into this. It’s a
massive advantage for any team playing on a Friday and then on a
Tuesday rather than a team having to play on a Saturday and then again
on the Tuesday.”

St Pat’s preseason signing John Mountney who still lives in Dundalk
returns to Oriel where he picked up 11 major trophies before his
departure and he is cautiously looking forward to facing some of his
old team mates.

“Of course, there is a lot of talk at the minute about Dundalk’s poor
start. But it’s only four games in for them to turn it around and get
the ball rolling.

Mountney is enjoying working with his old Dundalk team mate O’Donnell
at St Pat’s.

“Stephen is a manager that wants to bring his own style, his own
philosophies into the game. He is installing his own beliefs and the
way he wants to play. He challenges us, there is an intensity at
training every day, standards are high. He pushes us hard, especially
on understanding the game.”

O’Donnell goes up against his old club and the joint league leaders
have a full squad to pick with no injuries or suspensions ahead of
this intriguing clash.

 If the Saints are to harbour title designs this is an ideal test of
their nerve and self-belief and Dundalk are vulnerable.

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