Monday 17 December 2018

Kenny taking nothing for granted on seaside trip

James Rogers

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny insists his side will not be getting carried away with themselves despite climbing to the top of the table on goal difference following their victory over Shamrock Rovers on Friday night.

The 2-1 win at Oriel Park coupled with Waterford's victory over Cork City at the RSC saw both sides leapfrog the champions.

Dundalk have now won four games on the bounce and will be heavily fancied to make it five when they travel to the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm) to face a Bray Wanderers side who have taken just a single point from their opening nine matches.

The fact that draw was earned against Dundalk on the opening night and that the Seagulls are likely to have a new man in charge by the weekend following Dave Mackey's resignation means the Lilywhites will be taking nothing for granted when they head to the seaside venue.

'It was the only negative we could possibly find so far,' Kenny said of the frustrating 0-0 back in February.

'That was the opening game of the season but we have to earn the right to win every week. We have three away games in a week now so we're on the road a bit and we have a lot of travelling so we've got to remain focused and try to win games.

'We know it's early days. It's only nine games and we've to play Shamrock Rovers twice more and we've got to play a lot of teams. We know it's early days. We're only top on goal difference and Waterford are serious contenders but we have to focus on ourselves and make sure we're right for all our away games now.'

Dundalk have continued doubts over Ronan Murray (ankle), Sean Hoare (groin), Karolis Chevedukas (hamstring) and Brian Gartland (tonsillitis) for the trip to Wicklow although Gary Rogers could return having taken part in a warm-up prior to Friday night's game.

'You can't keep him out of it,' Kenny said of his keeper.

'He tore his calf. It was just a grade one tear but because he had a previous injury there last year we're just taking precaution. He'd have played if we had let him but he could have done himself damage. He's just doing straight handling. He is just so determined not to miss matches which you can understand. He has a great attitude.'

The full extent of who is available to the manager will not be clear until later today when he assesses his squad following last night's (Monday) EA Sports Cup match with St Patrick's Athletic. Kenny was delighted with his side's victory over Rovers but admitted they can play better.

'I don't think it was our best display overall,' he said. 'I think we can play better than we did but I still think we created a lot of chances. We hit the post and the bar from two great moves before we scored. We came out for the second half out of the blocks really quickly and got a deserved goal. Obviously the second one was a bit fortuitous but Robbie Benson was very much involved in that move for the first goal early on. It was a great little move and then he had the wherewithal to follow up from Pat Hoban's strike which the keeper saved and he finished it having shown great determination to get there. It was an important goal and an important moment in the match.

'It was Chris Shields' first goal in five years in the league. I hadn't realised that. It shows you how long I'm here because I was the manager for that game against Sligo here in my first year.

'Shamrock Rovers are a good team. They had two physical threats in Gary Shaw and Dan Carr from free kicks and the long throws from Ethan Boyle but I was annoyed that we conceded a goal from a corner kick. We pride ourselves on that. We hadn't conceded a goal this season so to concede a careless goal like that sort of made the game have a dramatic ending but it didn't need to be dramatic at that stage. You can't have everything I suppose. 

'We could have been a goal down in the first half and equally we could have got two. It was end to end. Reporting on it I'd say there was a lot to fit in so that was the nature of the game.

'We gave up more chances than we should have. Both teams pressed each other all over the park and space was at a premium. Rovers' runners from deep got in through the middle of our defence a couple of times but we'll take the win. It's a very important win,' he said.

Kenny also had plenty of praise for Chris Shields and said he was getting back to his best after some injury problems last year.

'He has had a terrific start to the season. Last year there was a carry-over from the Europa League for him with the osteo pubis injury. His mobility was never quite where it had been the previous year and he was struggling. He was playing but he was never quite free in his movement but this season Danny Miller has done a great job with him.

'Chris is covering some ground at the moment and making a big impact. He's a big help in the clean sheet run. He has had a big say in that.' Kenny could only laugh at the midfielder's drought.

'We fetched a few balls out of row Z and out of the town and we had to replace a few with him because he always has that one where he runs up when it comes to the edge of the box and he just can't resist leaning back,' said the manager.

'I wouldn't mind but his finishing in training is very good to be fair. He scored a couple of goals in the cup all right. He celebrated it because it was an important moment in the match and because it was such a long time since he scored. If you're waiting five years (for a goal) you'll celebrate it for sure.'

Kenny was disappointed that the clean sheet record was gone though. 'We enjoyed it in the dressing room and it sort of cultivated that togetherness and determination to fight for each other. We can't underestimate that. 

'We know that's the corner kick they use. They just float it in to Dan Carr at the near post. We went through it several times yesterday so we're disappointed with that but we've got to focus on the positives. The 'Come on the Town' shouts at the end from all sides of the ground was great. You could really feel that. 

'Our home form has been very good overall I feel apart from the opening game of the season obviously but since then we had an 8-0 and we created a lot of chances against Cork. Today was the only game that was in the balance really. We had a lot of chances on the night but they were a threat also,' he said.

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