Dundalk striker Patrick Hoban is hoping his side can land European football sooner rather than later before his own big delivery.
Fresh from their 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal on Thursday, Filippo Giovagnoli’s side travel to Richmond Park on Sunday in the knowledge that victory over St Patrick’s Athletic will secure Europa League football once again next season.
However, should they fail to beat Stephen O’Donnell’s men the race for third place will go down to the final day when the Louth men will be at home to Sligo Rovers on November 8th.
That fixture comes just five days before the league’s top scorer Hoban is due to welcome his first baby into the world. As a result, he is more anxious than most to ensure Dundalk get the job done on Sunday ahead of their trip to Vienna to face Rapid Wien next Thursday.
“The baby is due on November 13th,” said the dad-to-be.
“Everything seems to be going well so far but hopefully it happens in between fixtures,” he laughed.
“If it happens while I’m away in Vienna next week there’s nothing I can do because we’re going Tuesday so if it happened Wednesday I can’t get back. Luckily there’s a gap between the two Vienna games which sort of works in my favour but hopefully we get Europe wrapped up on Sunday so the Sligo game is not as much as a concern but we need to win regardless. We drew with Finn Harps and lost to Waterford and drew with Bohs and in my eyes we should have won all three so we need to fix that.”
Hoban said playing at the Emirates on Thursday had given everyone at Dundalk an extra drive to ensure they have a chance for a similar memorable journey next year.
“All the players want to be in European football every year,” he said.
“That’s not an easy achievement. Obviously we managed to do it this year but we want to be doing it all the time.
“It’s a short career. Some lads have got to do this twice but I’d love to do it twice or three times. It’s a phenomenal experience playing against quality teams that you probably never thought you’d play against playing in the League of Ireland. It gives you a great opportunity to try and achieve things but we’ve a very difficult game now against St Pat’s first.
“They’re going to be hurting after losing their last game but we have to concentrate on cementing down third place before we think about anything else.
“At the end of the day we’ve two league games left so in my eyes we need to win both. I know if we beat Pat’s it puts everyone out of the equation but for own sake we need to win both because our results this year in the league haven’t been good enough and we need to start winning football to get that air of confidence.
“That will feed into the Europa League games as well. Our last four performances in Europe have been quite good but for some reason we’re not able to translate that into the league but hopefully we can do it on Sunday.”
The 29-year-old said his side would learn a lot from their outing against Arsenal.
“It was disappointing the way we conceded but there was definitely a lot of positives.
“At times I thought we kept the ball very well against them. Obviously mistakes can kill you but as a team I thought we did really, really well. The quality we were playing against was very good but I thought we gave a good account of ourselves against what was Premier League opposition.”
Patrick McEleney will miss the trip to Richmond Park for Dundalk with a groin problem while there is also an injury doubt over Sean Murray.