Sunday 22 April 2018

Perth heaps praise on team leader O'Donnell

Dundalk first-team coach Vinny Perth. Picture: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE
Dundalk first-team coach Vinny Perth. Picture: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

Terry Conlon

ASSISTANT manager Vinny Perth hailed the professionalism of the players following the recent win at Oriel Park, key to which - he said - was keeping a clean sheet.

It was a game that Dundalk were expected to win and that was acknowledged by Stephen Kenny's right-hand man who is hopeful that the squad can mount a big challenge for the title.

'When you are expected to win sometimes that heaps a little bit of pressure on you, but I think we were very professional.

'When you keep clean sheets, with the forwards we have and the attacking midfielders I think you will win games. In fairness we kept a clean sheet and Pat took three goals, but we could have had more. Kurtis Byrne could have had a hat-trick himself. All round it is a good night,' he commented.

Perth explained that a slight injury picked up before the start of the game by Tiarnan Mulvenna caused a late change in the team. Darren Meenan was restored to the side, having starred in The Brandywell the previous week.

'Tiarnan didn't feel 100%, so we didn't risk him. We changed the team around. Darren Meenan was exceptional last week, but we just changed it because we felt we could attack a little bit more. Darren's come in and done really well. That's the breaks. These things happen in football and people have to be ready to take their chances and in fairness they did.'

Scoring hero Patrick Hoban was the undisputed Man of the Match, becoming the first player from the club in more than two years to complete a hat-trick, but the assistant manager assessed that the returning Stephen O'Donnell was probably the single most influential player and the team leader.

'Obviously Pat gets the Man of the Match for his three goals, but Stephen was the one we turned to when things weren't going brilliantly and he made a lot of ground and tackles. He was our leader tonight. He's back and that is a big plus for us.'

Both full-backs John Sullivan and Dane Massey were withdrawn in the second half. The assistant manager explained Sullivan, whose glorious cross-field pass led to the goal of the match, was taken off as a precaution, while Dane had a minor injury during the week.

'We will have to assess that. That's obviously a concern. We don't have the biggest squad in the world as much as we strengthened over the last couple of weeks. These things happen. They are part of football, but we have got a lot of good players. Brian Gartland has come in and added to the squad. He's a big threat in both boxes.'

Perth thought the other new signing Francis McCaffrey, the 20 year-old former Northern Ireland underage international recruited from Hull City, was 'very very good. His match fitness is just not there yet, but it is not far off. He will only get better.'

Kenny's assistant said being able to bring Gartland into the side in the second half can help going to Cork this weekend, with the centre-half an obvious replacement for Andy Boyle who will be missing along with Richie Towell.

'We have a couple of suspensions. Andy Boyle and Richie Towell are out next week. Two big losses, but we have big confidence in Brian. That's why we brought him here. He's played 31, 29 and 28 times for Portadown in the (Irish) League in the last three seasons. We brought him in for that reason. We respect him. We think he is a top player and he is going to push people in the team and that's what you want.

''That's what football is all about nowadays. It's a squad game and we have got to use the squad to the best of our ability. We are happy with the squad and hopefully we have enough about us to certainly mount a big challenge.'

The Argus