Kick off in Oriel Park on Friday is at 7.45 pm. The match will be streamed on LOITV.

We’ve had a bit of a rest this week after three Friday/Monday games, how have you reflected on last Friday’s 2-2 draw with St. Pat’s?

“Very similar to what I felt after the game. I felt we should have won the game and I still feel that when you watch it back. The game could’ve been over after 15 or 20 minutes as we had a lot of chances. Pat’s made some good blocks to be fair to them. But we had enough chances to win the game quite comfortably. We’re disappointed at the goals we gave away, really basic from our point of view. We’re frustrated that we only got a point. But, we take the point and move on.”

Neil Farrugia started against St. Pat’s and was withdrawn as he continues his comeback and Jack Byrne again got plenty of minutes as a sub and looks increasingly sharp, you must be pleased with their increasing minutes and contributions after such long lay-offs.

“It was great to have both on the pitch, but again, we just need to be careful, especially with the Friday/Monday games, as to where they are. Jack was out for such a long time, we’ve built both back up the last few weeks to a good place. Jack’s doing well but we need to keep building on that, he’s not too far away from being back to where he was. But they’re all doing well and in the next few days or next week we should have a few more bodies back.”

It looks like we might have the closest title race in years. After next Monday’s Derry game, we’ll be halfway through the season. How would you assess our half-term report?

“We’re doing ok. But we can be a lot better, there’s no doubt about that. But people keep talking about the title race as being the tightest in years, it’s been like this for years. People forget last year Bohs were so far ahead, the year before it was Derry were far ahead and the year before it was Sligo far ahead. We’ve had this for years, so I don’t know why every year people say it’s the tightest it’s ever been. It’s actually not, it’s always like this. Anyone who expects any different is silly and naïve. This league is competitive, it’s tough and it’s always like this right up to the last round of games. I don’t see this as being any different. You look back through the years, we’ve gone into the break always behind. It’s just about staying focused, we want to be better than what we have been already, there’s no doubt about that. We want to win more games, have more points. We’re doing ok, but there’s still a lot more to come.”

To Friday’s away game at Dundalk; it looked like you were about to face Rovers 80’s four-in-a-row player/coach Noel King, but Noel has stepped away for health reasons. Despite their managerial situation, we’ll need to reach our levels to get three important points given they held us to a draw in the first game of the season.

“Yes, we will. I think even when you look at Dundalk’s game last week against Waterford, I know the score says 4-1 to Waterford, but Dundalk had a lot of chances in the game. They will feel if one of those goes in, it’s a completely different game. It wasn’t a 4-1 game in that respect, we know it will be a tough game in Oriel Park, obviously, Noel has just left, so we don’t know what sort of effect it will have for them, positive or negative. But we can’t control that, we have to focus on us, make sure we go there fully focused to win three points.”

Will Dundalk’s artificial surface and the Derry game on Monday influence the starting eleven for Oriel Park?

“Yes, it does come into it. There are certain players, certain types you don’t like playing on that for sure, so it will definitely come into it. But there are no excuses. We’re lucky here we have an Astro surface to train on leading up to the game. We’re well used to it at this stage. Is it ideal? I think everyone would agree, that we don’t want them in the league, I think that’s quite obvious. But there’s no complaining, we’ll deal with it and fully focus on winning the game.”

How are our injured players this weekend?

“Rory Gaffney and Darragh Burns won’t be available this weekend. Aaron McEneff and Richie Towell we’ll check on today after training. But they’re all doing well as are Lee Grace and Dylan Watts. Seán Hoare will probably be another two or three weeks. Gary O’Neill is progressing really well and his return will be hopefully similar to Seán’s. All going well, with no setbacks, we hope to have four or five back next week which would be great.”