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Jim Magilton pictured at Richmond Park yesterday.
Jim Magilton pictured at Richmond Park yesterday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

'To come back with that and shove those words down my throat, I'm chuffed to bits'

Jim Magilton expressed his delight as a much-improved Dundalk beat St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday.
May 29th 2021, 6:30 AM 7,459 2

WAS IT A psychological masterstroke, or just the natural reaction of an utterly exasperated manager?

Either way, Jim Magilton got the response he would have hoped for from his players.

After Monday’s humbling 5-1 defeat against Bohemians, the sporting director and interim manager’s highly critical comments of his own players raised eyebrows.

He questioned the character of the dressing room and suggested a “clearout” was required at Oriel Park. 

On Friday evening at Richmond Park, the Lilywhites produced a much-improved display, earning only their second clean sheet of the season as they overcame a St Pat’s side that started the day just three points off table toppers Sligo Rovers.

And unsurprisingly, Magilton struck a very different tone to Monday.

“We executed the gameplan to perfection,” he told reporters afterwards. “We gave Pat’s a lot of respect, respect that they were due. Stephie O’s team were excellent. We had to be very patient and we had to be ruthless. The two goals, the first one was slightly fortunate. We recognised their strengths but understood that we could exploit one or two of their weaknesses. We did and the goals came at the right time for us, so I’m delighted.”

In stark contrast with Dalymount, the backline all impressed, with Andy Boyle in particular making more than one vital, goal-saving block.

“Tonight, they demonstrated a courage and a character to win a game of football, and they got their just rewards,” Magilton said.

The former Ipswich boss also acknowledged that his side had to take a more pragmatic approach, having shipped five goals earlier this week. 

“You’re dealing with quality, experienced players who can handle this. Pat [Hoban] being back was a massive bonus for us. And we just decided that we were going to have to be very disciplined and very organised.

“It’s probably where we’re at at the minute. We will be better with the ball, I demand that we’re better with the ball. Teams that I set up have to be better with the ball. I’m possession-based, but today was about defending the goal for your life and they did that.

“It’s the demands that we’ll put on them and there’s nothing wrong with going back to basics, absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. Defend properly, play on the counter-attack, and we have to be better with the ball. We turn it over still a little bit too much for my liking. But we had to get a result and we did.”

Magilton added that he was delighted with the players’ response to his harsh words on Monday.

“When you question that [character], and I did, to come back with that and shove those words down my throat, I’m chuffed to bits. It’s exactly how I would have felt and I’m glad they did. Their attitude since Bohemians was excellent. When they apply themselves in that manner, with that desire to get a result, they’re a hard team to beat. 

“These are really good players. If really good players work that hard, you would like to think that the quality will show. They’ve got to demonstrate that over and over again. When you look at the consistency of a Shamrock Rovers and how they can see games out and get on that run, these lads are more than capable of doing that.”

Following this week’s action, there will be a two-week break before the Premier Division resumes.

Magilton was coy when asked whether he would still be in the hotseat for their next game at home to bottom-of-the-table Waterford on 11 June.

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“I don’t know, to be honest. I’m going to give myself a couple of days off.”

And might he even be considered for the job on a more long-term basis?

“Do you know what? They’ve given me a sty. I haven’t had a sty since my A levels. And that was a long time ago. So stress levels have been through the roof. So we all need time out. I think we need this break and we really need to focus on what happens next and what happens next at this football club has to be the right decision moving forward.”

 Meanwhile, St Pat’s boss Stephen O’Donnell lamented his side’s concession of two “sloppy” goals, having dominated possession for much of the game.

“Did we do enough at the other end, ask the ‘keeper enough questions? Probably not,” he said.

As the halfway point of the season approaches though, with his side sitting third, O’Donnell said he was satisfied overall with how the season has panned out thus far.

“It’s been a hectic schedule. We’ve a tight squad, so a lot of lads have played a lot of games in a short period of time. The break has probably come at a decent enough time for us to freshen things up, get back in next week and get ready for Longford away. We go into a busy enough schedule after that again. We’re getting a little break. We’ve lost three games of the first 14, so it’s been an encouraging start. Now we just need to build on it.”

He also clarified that striker Ronan Coughlan started last night’s game on the bench, as he was carrying a slight knock.

“Ronan’s been having little niggles. It’s a case of trying to freshen it up, give him a little bit of a breather physically and the few days will do him the world of good. We didn’t have Mattie Smith available on Monday, so I asked Ronan to go to the well for me on Monday, and then we had a look at it, because he does have a couple of issues that just need tidying up.”

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