We have to take the good with the bad, admits Kenny
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny accepts that his players have to accept criticism after three years packed with praise.
The Lilywhites' hopes of a fourth successive title are already on the rocks after four defeats in the first series of games with Cork's extraordinary 100pc start to the campaign meaning that the defending champions are 12 points off the pace.
Kenny is still aggrieved by the manner of Dundalk's losses, particularly the controversial reverse at the hands of Bray where the Seagulls were awarded two penalties, but he concedes that all involved at the club just have to accept being on the other side of the equation following a memorable 2016 where they received a wide range of plaudits.
"There is a saying in Derry - 'take your oil' - we got enough praise in the last couple of years. We've lost a few games and we've got to take our oil," said Kenny. "We have to take the good with the bad. It's been a record-breaking year.
"Our spirits are high. We've lost a couple of games we should have won (like) the Bray game. The other defeats were legitimate defeats, I don't consider that one (to be). We've had a lot of issues at the club this year, I don't want to make excuses but we've had problems.
"A lot of the players are playing quite well at the moment. We just have got to get the balance right. We've won seven matches and had some very good performances. We're second, not second from bottom and people would think you're almost second from bottom. The gap (to Cork) is more than significant. All we can do is focus on our matches; we're not getting hung up on it."
The departures of key men Andy Boyle, Daryl Horgan and Ronan Finn weakened Kenny's hand and injury problems have complicated things further. His team's defeat away to Cork is the one game where he concedes they were second best, but he has pinpointed an early setback in that fixture as a real problem.
"The key miss for us this season has been Robbie Benson," continued Kenny. "He started off so far ahead of last season, with his performances in pre-season, and he was a proper leader in the team. He started off so dynamically. That injury in Cork when he ripped his hamstring has been costly because we don't have a like-for-like, someone to run beyond the No 10."
Benson could return for Dundalk's league game with Sligo Rovers next week, and Sean Gannon is also aiming for that encounter although he is a bit behind his midfield team-mate.