DUNDALK manager Ian Foster claims that the FAI are hindering, not helping, his side's chances of success in European football this season due to a punishing schedule of fixtures.
The Lilywhites, who play Bulgarian side Levski Sofia in the Europa League in Bulgaria on Thursday, were yesterday playing their third game in the space of six days, and it showed as a limp and tired Dundalk were beaten 4-0 by Shamrock Rovers, who go back on top of the league table, one point ahead of St Pats, thanks to the win.
Foster refused to criticise his players after the loss, their biggest of the season, and instead said his side were simply too tired due to a punishing schedule which forces them to play three important games in six days.
"I am fearful going to Bulgaria now," said Foster. "If Levski had a scout here yesterday I'm sure they will be delighted with what they saw. It could be a very tricky night out there for us.
"We are going to play a very illustrious European team on Thursday and my players are absolutely shattered.
"They were tired going into the game. Physically and mentally they were drained so I can't have a go at them, I didn't expect anything else.
"I won't have a go at my players because they haven't been given an opportunity. When we are fresh, we can beat Shamrock Rovers. We have proven that this season, but not with three games in six days.
"We will have 10 games in this calendar month and that's absolutely ludicrous and we haven't got a squad to rotate, I'm sure Rovers were rubbing their hands when they saw us coming to play them yesterday, after we had a big local derby on Monday and a European tie on Thursday. It's beyond belief.
"This isn't tournament football, it's a league programme, to play three games in six days, you just can't do that. We have a game every three days this month and when we go to Galway at the end of the month we will be literally dying on our feet.
"We signed a player on Friday, a boy from Rangers called Stephen Lennon, but we couldn't play him yesterday because we had to send his registration by recorded delivery -- that's how much they help you. Why can't you email or fax it? It's like the dark ages.
"We keep getting told about coefficients and we see the FAI blazers travel with us in Europe and get on the bandwagon but I don't see them helping us," added Foster.
Earlier this season the 33-year-old was forced to backtrack on comments he made which were critical of the FAI and Abbotstown could decide to take disciplinary action in view of his latest criticisms.
Even though their fellow county men were deflated by events down the road at Croke Park, Dundalk started the game brightly and went very close to taking the lead after six minutes when Ross Gaynor's free kick came off the crossbar.
But Rovers quickly took a grip of the game and it was only due to a string of saves from keeper Matt Gregg that Dundalk kept the game scoreless.
However, the hosts finally broke Dundalk's resistance on the half-hour, James Chambers left with a simple finish after Dundalk failed to defend a Craig Sives throw-in. Twigg got his first on 35 minutes, again some dreadful defensive play from Dundalk as they were unable to deal with a corner.
And within a minute Twigg made it 3-0, the Scot picking up on a through ball and slotting past Gregg. Chambers scored his side's fourth on the hour.
Dundalk offered nothing after that, their day summed up by a dismal effort from Stephen Maher on 86 minutes when he was set up by a Michael McGowan cross but former Rovers player Maher blazed his shot over.
The win elevates Rovers above St Pats and with their next league game against struggling Galway United.
"We're delighted to win the game, we were very strong and that was the first time where we were relaxed in the second half as the game was won," said Rovers boss Michael O'Neill. "It keeps up the momentum, we have had two very good home performances now."