It might be early in the season but Dundalk defender Andy Boyle believes it is weeks like this one which can determine who becomes SSE Airtricity League Premier Division champions come the end of the season.

Vinny Perth’s side had to do things the hard way in beating Shelbourne 2-1 at Tolka Park on Friday night. The now meet Cork City tonight before a crunch clash with last season’s runners-up Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.

It’s the first testing week in a season which is still in its infancy but while it might be early days, Boyle – who has won league titles in his last four seasons at Oriel Park – knows how important they can be.

“You win leagues over these weekends. It’s just about recovering and preparing properly.

“It’s a very quick turnaround but that’s why you have a big squad and two players for every position.”

While Boyle wasn’t at Oriel this time last year, he said it was a definite plus that his side were four points better off from the opening two games than they were 12 months ago.

“It’s definitely a plus,” he said.

“It’s something that we’ve talked about at the start of the league getting maximum points this week and last week and as you say we’re four points better off now than we were this time last year.”

The 28-year-old admitted the victory over Shels as a “dogfight.”

He said: “Especially in the second half the conditions of the pitch, they were what they were. The pitch tore up a bit but I think in the end we were good value for the win. We knew we’d have to dig in throughout the game and we did that.

“We had a good start in the first half and I thought we controlled large parts of the first half. In the second half, it was a sloppy goal for us to give away at the edge of the box from a corner. We should have done better really but we’re just delighted to get the three points.”

Before the game Boyle’s fiancée Hayley Donegan had joked on social media that she’d be a while waiting for the defender to score but the Republic of Ireland International has now scored on his last three visits to Tolka Park with Dundalk.

He saw the funny side of it all when it was brought up with him afterwards.

“I’ll have to have a word with her tonight,” he laughed.

“To be fair I don’t score too many so she’s probably not wrong. I always joke that it’s easier to get the Lotto numbers up than predicting me scoring but it was great to score. I’d have loved a clean sheet as well but the most important thing was to win the game and the goal gave us a platform to go forward. I couldn’t have missed.”

On his record at Tolka, Boyle said: “I only actually thought of that after I had scored that I seem to score here a lot. It’s just one of those things but I don’t really remember scoring too many for Shels when I was playing with them,” he laughed.