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'When people are putting you down it's good to get one over on them'

Drogheda United aim to continue their promising start to the season as Cork City head to Louth tonight.

Drogheda United midfielder Jake Hyland.
Drogheda United midfielder Jake Hyland.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“WE’RE GONNA WIN the league” was the chant from the Drogheda United fans after they made it two wins from two games in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division last Friday night with a 2-0 home victory over St Patrick’s Athletic.

A decade on from the only top-flight title triumph in the club’s history, it’s wishful thinking to expect the current side to emulate that achievement in their first season back in the Premier Division.

But for a team that began the season among the favourites to be relegated, it’s been a case of so far, so good in 2017. Seven days before they got the better of Pat’s, Pete Mahon’s side opened their campaign with a 1-0 win away to Galway United.

“It’s been brilliant,” said Drogs midfielder Jake Hyland. “It’s given us a good platform to build on. I don’t think many pundits were expecting us to take six points from the first two games.

“We were lucky in Galway, they were the better team in the first half, but we took our chance in the second half and held on. The Pat’s game, I thought we improved a good bit as a team. We set up to stop them playing out from the back and we fully deserved the three points.”

Hyland admits that being written off by so many pundits and observers ahead of the new season has spurred the Drogheda players on, even though they returned to the Premier Division ahead of schedule. After just one season in the First Division, Drogs secured top-flight status again via the play-offs at the expense of Cobh Ramblers and Wexford Youths.

Drogheda players celebrate It's 10 years since Drogheda United won the Premier Division title. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“When people are writing you off it motivates you. Last year in the First Division, everyone said it would be UCD and Shels fighting for the play-offs, but it was us in second all season and we proved that we were the second-best team in the league by getting promoted,” Hyland said.

“When people are putting you down it’s good to get one over on them. It’s obviously going to be very hard to stay up with three teams going down, but I think if you take away probably the top three or four teams in the league, anyone could find themselves fighting against relegation. We’re looking to pick up points along the way and hopefully we’ll be good enough to stay up.”

Friday’s win over Pat’s was particularly pleasing for Hyland on a personal level. Less than two years since he parted company with Bohemians, the 21-year-old midfielder scored the first of Drogheda’s two goals in a man-of-the-match display against the Saints.

“I was delighted with the performance last Friday,” said the midfielder. “I’m looking to kick on this year. I have a point to prove now after leaving Bohs, that I can play in the Premier Division. Pete has given me the chance so I’m looking to repay the faith he has shown in me.”

While Drogheda have been buoyed by their start, Hyland knows that tonight’s visit of Cork City represents a stiffer test of their credentials than what they’ve faced so far. The only other Premier Division side yet to concede a goal, the Leesiders go to United Park on the back of a 4-0 defeat of Galway United at Turner’s Cross, which followed a 1-0 win away to Finn Harps.

Greg Bolger Jake Hyland is looking forward to testing himself against the likes of Cork City captain Greg Bolger. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“You want to be playing against the best players every week. If you look at our games — from Galway, to Pat’s, to Cork — we’re stepping up each week,” said Hyland ahead of tonight’s clash with the FAI Cup holders, who are many people’s favourites to end the season as Premier Division champions.

“Testing yourself against the players that Cork have is a brilliant opportunity because you find out where you’re at. The hope is that you can get to that level yourself some day, playing at the highest level in the League of Ireland or further afield, to go on and do something with your career.”

He added: “We like to set up to attack, especially when we’re at home. United Park is a tough place for teams to come to. I’ve played here before against Drogheda; it’s a hostile atmosphere, the crowd are on top of you.

“I don’t think Cork are going to take anything for granted coming up here but we’ll have to put the pressure on them and play the high-energy football that we know we’re capable of. Hopefully then we can get a result out of it.”

Elsewhere tonight in the Premier Division, four-in-a-row-chasing champions Dundalk will be looking for their third consecutive win at home to a Limerick side who saw their game away to Derry City last weekend abandoned due to floodlight failure.

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Thomas Stewart celebrates scoring his side fourth goal with team mates Dundalk were 4-0 winners away to Sligo Rovers last weekend. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

After their 4-1 win over Bohemians on the opening weekend, Derry go in search of another big result in Dublin when they take on Shamrock Rovers, who bounced back from their defeat to Dundalk by beating Bohs 2-1 in Tallaght seven days ago.

Bray Wanderers don’t often travel to Dalymount Park as favourites, but Harry Kenny’s side will be full of confidence following their victories against St Pat’s and Finn Harps. Bohs will be aiming to pick up their first points of the season, and so too will Harps and Galway United when they meet in Ballybofey. Sligo Rovers and St Pat’s will also be seeking to get off the mark at the Showgrounds.

Predictions

Every week, we’re giving readers the chance to take us on in predicting the Premier Division results. After Week 2, we’re level on points:

The42: 7
The Readers: 7

Next up is David Kent from Meath…

The Reader (David Kent) 

  • Bohemians v Bray Wanderers – Bray Wanderers win
  • Dundalk v Limerick – Draw
  • Sligo Rovers v St Patrick’s Athletic – Draw
  • Drogheda United v Cork City – Cork City win
  • Finn Harps v Galway United – Finn Harps win
  • Shamrock Rovers v Derry City – Shamrock Rovers win

The42 (Paul Dollery) 

  • Bohemians v Bray Wanderers – Draw
  • Dundalk v Limerick – Dundalk win
  • Sligo Rovers v St Patrick’s Athletic – Draw
  • Drogheda United v Cork City – Cork City win
  • Finn Harps v Galway United – Finn Harps win
  • Shamrock Rovers v Derry City – Draw

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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