Kenny praises resilience of unbreakable Dundalk unit
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny has hailed his team's ability to cope with the obstacles put in front of them as they seek to retain the Premier Division title.
The Lilywhites strengthened their hold on the crown by scoring a crucial victory over Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night that extended their lead over Cork to eight points and knocked the Hoops out of the picture completely.
It was by no means a vintage display but Kenny is proud that his troops have the resilience to cope with the pressure of being the team that everybody wants to take down.
"We've had teams narrowing pitches this year away from home, we've had teams leaving grass long, we've had teams playing different tactics and I say to the players every week that whatever anyone throws at you, you've got to overcome these obstacles," said Kenny.
"Tuesday was a more direct approach and we have to overcome that.
"The onus was on us to get it down and pass it a bit better than we did but we still showed our defensive qualities."
Kenny is conscious there's still a lot of work to be done in the remaining seven games, yet he did admit to keeping a close eye on BATE Borisov, their Champions League conquerors, who went on to again advance to the group stages.
Dundalk lost 2-1 on aggregate to the Belarusian side and Kenny is still a bit sore that they managed to talk star man Vitali Rodionov out of a second-leg suspension.
The overall experience has increased his desire to get back to that stage next year.
"It just shows that every club should have a top barrister," said Kenny with a wry smile. "They brought in one of the top barristers in Belarus and fought it, when they had accepted he was going to be banned. He got off on a technicality.
"He was a massive, massive player for them. We can learn from them because it's an incredible run they are on for a club of their size.
"They are in Barcelona's group and of course it gives you a taste for it. You really, really want it. We've got to keep improving."
Rovers boss Pat Fenlon admits that Kenny's team are setting the standard but he feels his club can challenge strongly next term.
"To win a league is difficult so to go and win it again I know is more difficult so you have to give them credit," he said.
""They have a bit of pace and that's something we have to look at in building a team."