Fired-up Perth and Hoban have point to prove as Dundalk kick off new year
There is a determination within the Dundalk dressing room to prove that recognition of their double winning achievement last year was lost in the fuss around the exit of Stephen Kenny.
New boss Vinny Perth even says that it is being used as a motivation to drive the group forward this year, with top scorer Patrick Hoban particularly fired up.
He glanced home the decisive goal in Saturday's President's Cup win at the home of their arch rivals Cork City, with a dominant first-half display inspiring the success. Perth went with the same team from November's FAI Cup final, with headers from Dane Massey and Hoban putting them in control.
Cork did improve after the restart, with manager John Caulfield still trying to figure out what to do with his resources, and Kevin O'Connor marked his loan return from Preston with a stunning free-kick to halve the deficit.
Daire O'Connor, a winter recruit from UCD, starred in their rally, but Dundalk held out.
Perth says that a post-game team photo with staff in front of the travelling fans was about emphasising togetherness.
"We've been left behind a little bit over the past couple of months in terms of what happened with the change in the club," he said.
"It is about people who've achieved so much over the last five to six years to say it's our time to shine.
"I'm certainly not crying over it. Michael Duffy did get recognition (PFAI Player of the Year). I'm just making the point that we played a huge part in the success and some people have probably forgotten that. The previous manager hasn't forgotten. I'm just making the point that we feel we have something to prove and show that we can be successful on our own two feet."
Hoban set a new Premier Division goalscoring record in 2018 with 29 goals, but was pipped by Duffy for the PFAI gong. He was miffed to be down the list when Irish sporting achievements across the year were discussed. Perth feels that the Galwegian deserved international recognition.
"Pat has a huge hunger anyway," he stressed.
"To achieve what he did and not to be recognised at the back end of last season doesn't sit well with me or the group.
"If Pat needs any more motivation, he'll certainly use that as a drive to get to the next level... that someone scores 29 goals and they are not really talked about as one of the greats. People have got into international squads for scoring less goals in this league."
Meanwhile, Cork boss Caulfield feels that the fresher faces in his team need to become as streetwise as the double winners.
"They manage the games well, dominate referees," he said.
"Our young lads don't have that experience."