Friday 15 December 2017

Magic moments to be made

James Rogers

A hangover can be a painful thing. The mind doesn't always do what the body wants it to, you're not yourself and you think it will never end.

Hangovers pass though and ahead of Dundalk's return to the Champions League on Rosenborg, Ciaran Kilduff believes his side's is now but a distant memory.

This season hasn't always been the best for Stephen Kenny's side but Kilduff gave a reminder of better days by scoring an 89th minute winner away to Bohemians last week.

Coming off the bench to score brought back memories of the striker's lucrative goals to secure a point away to AZ Alkmaar last September before his winner against Maccabi Tel Aviv two weeks later.

They were two of many highlights on a 12 match European adventure that no one associated with Dundalk FC or the League of Ireland in general will forget in a hurry.

The impact of that run took its toll though, with the Lilywhites falling out of the running in the title race this season as they lost some games they probably shouldn't have.

After an impressive run of form of late, Kilduff believes Dundalk have turned a corner though and with Europe on the horizon he's dreaming of a few more 'magic moments' in the weeks ahead with the 'hangover' now behind them.

'It was a really taxing year last year,' he said. 'It was Christmas by the time it was over and we were over in Israel when everyone was putting up their Christmas trees. It was just a crazy year but as crazy as it was we want it more than anything again this year.

'It's no excuse for our form at times this season but I was at Shamrock Rovers and there was a hangover then. It's not complacency either, you've just been on such a rollercoaster of a year.

Other teams probably had another six to eight weeks rest on you. The bodies were tired after a really long season. We're not machines at the end of the day. 'We probably did have a little bit of a hangover from it but we're out the other side of it now,' he said.

Proof of the recovery is in the side's results. Kilduff's late header against Bohs made it five wins from five for Dundalk since the break and came a year to the day since he scored an injury-time winner to earn his side a 4-3 win over Longford a week before last year's European campaign.

Everyone at Dundalk will be hoping that's a good omen ahead of the double header with Rosenborg. 'That was a good omen for us last year if you read into that sort of thing,' he smiled.

'Bohemians was an important win for us. We weren't maybe as good as we had been for the last four games. It just felt sweet to get over the line and keep the bit of momentum we had going.

'It would have been a bit of a dampner to be going into Rosenborg on the back of two points or maybe even three points dropped so it turns the atmosphere. 'We're also big enough to know it has to be a lot better when we come up against a top quality side like Rosenborg.

Still, we showed a bit of resilience and that was probably typical of what we had done last year, with myself or someone else scoring a late winner. It's those moments that can change seasons and that's hopefully one of them and it will bode well for going into Europe.'

Kilduff's goal against Bohs was the 125th of his career but he hopes there is bigger moments ahead. 'It's a nice landmark but hopefully there's a few more to come yet, especially this year because you kind of get the feeling there's some big moments to be had this season.

'We have more than a good chance in this tie. 'We've beaten BATE Borisov, we were 1-0 up against Legia Warsaw over there and just got caught when we had to throw the kitchen sink at them, we beat Maccabi, we drew in Alkmaar so we've slowly but surely got our own bit of European pedigree in the last 12 months - arguably better than theirs.

'They're hot favourites and probably rightly so given the size of the club but I remember being at Shamrock Rovers and beating Partizan Belgrade and when we were going over there we were 33/1 or something to win on the night. If we can't take confidence out of last year's confidence in Europe we're not doing something right.

'The European nights are always special. They're the ones that get remembered and they're the ones that you always remember as well. 'There are magic moments to be made.'

The Argus

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