Stephen Kenny calls for calm in response to 'spit' row as striker Patrick Hoban accuses Larnaca player of 'dirty act'
Stephen Kenny's Dundalk squad arrived in Cyprus last night braced for sweltering temperatures in tomorrow's Europa League decider with AEK Larnaca.
The Dundalk manager has also promised that his players will stay disciplined in the heat of the battle despite the ill-feeling hanging over an alleged spitting incident in the dying stages of last Thursday's scoreless draw at Oriel Park.
Dundalk striker Patrick Hoban says that a Larnaca player was guilty of a 'dirty act' during a penalty-box skirmish and his claim has been supported by his manager Kenny.
The incident preceded a bizarre moment where Hoban received a yellow card and then a red from the confused referee who rescinded his decision when he realised that he hadn't already booked Dundalk's top scorer.
It has transpired that the yellow card that Hoban did receive was for complaining that the officials missed the spitting offence.
"There was a row over the (foul on the) goalkeeper and they were all surrounding me. I was defending myself and they were all giving me a bit which is fair enough," said Hoban yesterday.
"A player spat at me. I think he was shocked at himself for doing it; you could see it in his face afterwards.
"I just went to plead the case to the referee. I didn't go over abusing him. I actually thought I'd handled the situation well for someone who had been spat on. I got a yellow and a red and didn't know what was going on. I was thinking, 'What can I do? He's sending me off?'
"I thought I was quite calm. Maybe the fourth official saw it but thankfully there was a bit of common sense."
His manager was relieved given Hoban's importance to his side's hopes of progressing to the third qualifying round.
"It (spit) is something that did happen for sure," said Kenny.
"It's something you shouldn't have to contend with.
"To be fair to Patrick, he didn't react. They actually booked him for protesting against it. Credit to him, he was firmly focused and it's important to keep your discipline and we will do that here."
Larnaca are an experienced European outfit who fielded six Spaniards in their starting side last week.
"They've a lot of Spanish and even watching La Liga, you can tell how clever they are when it comes to winning free-kicks and stuff," said Hoban.
"Obviously there's a lesson learned there. There are probably times where I am staying up and trying to be strong when I'm clearly getting fouled. I could probably go down."
Dundalk are a savvy enough outfit in their own right, however, and Kenny has ensured they are adequately prepared for the conditions at the AEK Arena.
They have enquired about water breaks in a game that kicks off at 6.30 local time (4.30 Irish) and his backroom staff have researched the drinks that should be taken on board to deal with heat management.
Dundalk's team will train at the stadium this evening to get a handle on what it's like at that time of the day; it was 30 degrees when they landed at 9.30 local time last night.
Kenny has travelled with no fresh injury problems, but Sean Gannon will need to come through a full training session with his team-mates to come into contention after missing the first leg and Sunday's league win over Bohemians through injury.
The Dundalk manager also confirmed that loanee Krisztian Adorjan will not be returning after he was called back to parent club Novara in Italy.
Adorjan was a popular member of the group and Dundalk were interested in extending his stay, yet it wasn't possible to get a deal done before last night's deadline.
Patrick McEleney's comeback has given Dundalk strength in the creative department and Hoban remains confident of progression with the away-goal rule now weighted in Dundalk's favour - much as Larnaca managed to restrict the League of Ireland leaders to few chances in the opening 90 minutes.
"I think they will go away from last week thinking they are the better side and they might hopefully attack a bit more on us and we can exploit the spaces," he said.
"I fully believe there are goals in the team and we are confident. The heat will be a factor. They are saying it will be a totally different level to what I've experienced before. You just have to be smart in terms of how you use your energy levels and we need to make sure we retain the ball well, which we definitely can.
"They have their strengths. They overloaded areas in our final third and made things very difficult and were clever and slowed the game down too. It's not going to be easy but I fully believe we can score and see where that takes us."