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Stuart Byrne column: No better feeling than winning the title on the final day

If Dundalk and Cork City both claim victories this week, they will clash in a winner-takes-all at Oriel Park next Friday.

Chris Shields of Dundalk with Garry Buckley of Cork.
Chris Shields of Dundalk with Garry Buckley of Cork.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THERE IS NO doubt the next week will be one of most testing, and exciting, of the Dundalk players’ careers.

With a one-point advantage over Cork City going into the final two league fixtures, they will need to believe that they can go and win this themselves as it won’t be handed to them.

I’m sure that Stephen Kenny will have been saying this in the dressing room for a long time and ultimately they must to be in that mindset to get over the finish line. If Dundalk go about their business properly, the title is theirs.

From my experience of this type of situation, there tends to be a core of players who will stand up and drag the rest along with them at this stage of the season. I watched Dundalk in the draw with Shamrock Rovers on Monday night and I thought they were really excellent.

Considering the situation they are in and the pressure on their shoulders, I thought they played very well and probably should have won on the night as they were by far the better team in the second half.

The home side didn’t show any signs they were afraid of the challenge. The penalty for Rovers was the only real opportunity they had in the second half. To be fair, it was a stupid tackle and they will count their lucky stars that Ryan Brennan missed it but they should really have had their own penalty. It was a definite handball by Simon Madden — no doubt about it at all.

It was Stevie O’Donnell’s chance which led to the handball and the Lilywhites will be glad to have him back in the picture now as he has the experience of winning league titles.

These are the things that can you against you and if you’re not ready for these knock-backs then you’re in trouble but I think they are, to be fair.

I’ll be covering Dundalk this Friday for RTÉ, as they travel to the Carlisle Grounds to face Bray Wanderers and they can potentially win the title there if Cork slip up at home to Bohemians. That won’t be easy as Bohs have been excellent but the Rebels have continuously showed how good a side they are all year.

If both clubs do win their penultimate fixtures this week, it will be a wonderful occasion next Friday night when Oriel Park hosts the Premier Division’s top two teams.

I was lucky enough to win four league titles during my playing days and two of them were last game of the season stuff. When the whole season hinges on one game and you get the right result, there is no better feeling.

If it does comes down to the last game of the season, I believe that Dundalk will have no problem beating Cork.

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About the author:

Stuart Byrne

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