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'There’s a bit of edge to these games' - Tonight's game in Cork could be the biggest of the season

But Daryl Horgan insists it’s not a revenge mission for Dundalk.

TURNER’S CROSS WAS packed on Tuesday night for the Republic of Ireland’s meeting with Belarus and, just three days later, another substantial crowd will fill the Cork venue for tonight’s top-of-the-table Premier Division clash between Cork City and Dundalk.

A win for City will bring them to within a point of Dundalk at the summit, and although we haven’t yet reached the halfway point of the SSE Airtricity League season, few would bet against the champions securing their third consecutive title if they can open up a seven-point gap tonight at the expense of their perennial challengers.

John Kavanagh takes a throw in Turner's Cross was packed to the rafters for last season's first meeting of Cork City and Dundalk. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The fixture provides another opportunity for Daryl Horgan to return to the ground where he established himself as one of the League of Ireland’s top talents. Horgan joined Dundalk for the 2014 campaign after two-and-a-half seasons as a Cork City player.

“I’ve been down there a good few times now since I left the club so we’re well used to each other by this stage. I enjoy it,” said Horgan ahead of tonight’s game at the Cross, which will be broadcast live on Setanta Sports [8.00pm kick-off].

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s really exciting and it should be a great one down in Turner’s Cross. It’s very exciting with first versus second. It should be a cracking atmosphere and it would be massive for us to go down there and pick up three points.”

Horgan will bring some impressive form into the fixture. After scoring on three occasions to help Dundalk to pick up five wins from as many games in May, the winger was named SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for the third time yesterday.

“This is my third one and they’ve all been in May. I go to shit after May!” Horgan joked. “It was a good month for me, we’ve been on a great run and we’ve won seven straight games.”

SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month Award for May 2016 Daryl Horgan received his third SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month award yesterday. Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

Despite losing 2015′s star man Richie Towell at the end of last season, Dundalk continue to set the pace thanks to players like Horgan and Ronan Finn stepping up to fill the void left by the Brighton & Hove Albion player.

Horgan: “The strength in depth in the squad has been huge for us. We lost some players at the end of last season but we’ve been able to bring in some new lads and they’ve done really well. We’re getting goals from all over the pitch. Richie Towell scored a lot of our goals last season but this year it is a bit more of an even spread.”

Having failed to defeat Dundalk in 10 previous attempts, Cork City finally tasted victory against the Lilywhites this season. Their 2-0 President’s Cup win in February at Turner’s Cross was followed in March by their first three-point haul at Oriel Park since 2009, when Sean Maguire’s penalty was the difference between the sides.

That was Dundalk’s only Premier Division loss of the season so far but it still hasn’t managed to reverse the order of supremacy at the top of the table. After dropping points elsewhere, City remain in pursuit instead of setting the pace. According to Horgan, tonight’s trip to Leeside is not a revenge mission.

He said: “It’ll be tight without being massively cagey. I think it will be a good game, we’re looking forward to it. Cork are on a good run at the moment too. I think there’s a bit of edge to these games now over the last few years with us both going for the title. Then there was the FAI Cup final last year too.”

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Eoghan O'Connell with Daryl Horgan Dundalk's Daryl Horgan being chased by Cork City's Eoghan O'Connell at Oriel Park back in March. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The 23-year-old added: “I wouldn’t say we owe them one. I wouldn’t go along the lines of that. We want to win, like we want to win every game and we want to go seven points clear, which we would with a win. I’m sure Cork will be looking at this and hoping that they can win so that they can close the gap.”

This weekend’s SSE Airtricity League fixtures

Friday, 3 June

Premier Division

Galway United v Derry City [7.45pm]
St Patrick’s Athletic v Shamrock Rovers [7.45pm]
Bray Wanderers v Longford Town [7.45pm]
Cork City v Dundalk [8.00pm]
Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers [8.00pm]
Wexford Youths v Bohemians [8.00pm]

First Division

Waterford United v Athlone Town [7.45pm]
UCD v Shelbourne [7.45pm]

Saturday, 4 June

First Division

Limerick v Drogheda United [6.30pm]
Cobh Ramblers v Cabinteely [7.15pm]

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Paul Dollery

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