Arsenal v Dundalk – October 29, 2020
The Dundalk Great Northern Railway (G.N.R.) Football Club was established in 1885 as a rugby football club.In September 1903 it switched codes to association football, setting in motion its journey to become the modern-day Dundalk Football Club. The new club, known locally as “the Railwaymen”, adopted the Dundalk Athletic Grounds (a facility near the town centre shared by several sporting codes) as its home ground. They played challenge matches at first, then became founder members of the first Dundalk and District League (DDL), formed in 1906. There are no records of the club being active between 1907–08 and 1912–13, but they re-joined the local league in 1913 for what turned out to be the final season before the outbreak of World War I. The DDL was dormant during the war, but the G.N.R. club entered both the Irish Junior Cup and Leinster Junior Cup competitions of 1913–14, 1914–15 and 1916–17.
After exiting the Irish Junior Cup in January 1917, the club appears to have been inactive again for the following two seasons. They re-formed for 1919–20, affiliated with the Leinster Football Association, and joined both the revived DDL, and the Newry and District League. They spent three seasons in the DDL, winning it twice, and also qualified to represent the district in both Junior Cup competitions each season. They reached their first final in 1920, a Leinster Junior Cup Final, losing out to Avonmore in a second replay. Looking to progress, they were elected to the Leinster Senior League for 1922–23 to replace sides that had been promoted to the nascent Free State League.They played four seasons in that division, before being elected to the Free State League on 15 June 1926 to replace Dublin club Pioneers, as the national league looked to spread to the provinces.
On 21 August 1926 they travelled to Cork to face Fordsons for their league debut, eventually finishing eighth in the 1926–27 season. By this stage, the team represented the G.N.R. works in name only, and the club’s management committee decided to make it independent of the company. In December 1927 new colours of white shirts with a crest of the town’s coat of arms were adopted, and by the end of the 1928–29 season the “G.N.R.” moniker had been phased out. With a new manager, Steve Wright, “doing everything except selling the programmes”, they finished as runners-up in both the League and the FAI Cup in 1930–31. Proof that they could compete at a national level gave the management committee confidence to press ahead, and the club was converted to a membership-based company— “Dundalk A.F.C. Limited” —on 25 January 1932.
1936 the club moved permanently to land made available by former committee member P.J. Casey on the Carrick Road, on a long-term land lease, naming the new ground “Oriel Park”. Almost 10 years to the day after Dundalk G.N.R. played their first League of Ireland match away to Fordsons, the same club (as Cork F.C.) were the first visitors to the new ground, with the home team winning 2–1. Oriel Park’s attendance record is an estimated 18,000, set in 1982 for Dundalk’s European Cup Winners’ Cup second round tie against Tottenham Hotspur F.C. On occasions when Oriel has been unavailable due to works, matches have been moved to United Park in Drogheda or Gortakeegan in Monaghan. The ground has had an artificial playing surface since 200On occasions when Oriel has been unavailable due to works, matches have been moved to United Park in Drogheda or Gortakeegan in Monaghan. The ground has had an artificial playing surface since 2005.
Domestic records held by the club
• Most Premier Division Titles: (8)
• Most consecutive Top-Two League finishes: (7, 2013–2019)
• Most points in a League season: (87, in 2018)
* Most points in Group Stages of a European season: (4, in 2016–17 Europa League)
• Most goals scored in a League season: (85, in 2018)
• Largest Goal Difference in a League season: (+65, in 2018)
• Fewest defeats in a 30+ match League season: (1, 2015)
I can find no record of previous games between Arsenal and Dundalk, but given the huge disparity between the two teams it will be a major shock if Dundalk go home to Ireland with any points.
Predicted Line-up by TotalArsenal:
With Luiz now out for a few weeks we are down to two available senior CBs for tonight’s game and I would not risk Gabriel for this one anymore, as opposed to my thoughts yesterday. We need an organiser at the back and I think Elneny is probably best suited, with Kola and Mustafi to do the dirty work on the left and right of him. To avoid these defenders to become too exposed, I reckon Partey (or Xhaka) will have to play and this may be a great opportunity to play AMN in midfield, who is a bit more defence-minded compared to Willock. Joe and Soares on the wingback positions and the attack picks itself, unless Mikel will want an experienced attacker from the start (Laca or Auba).