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'We’ve clawed it back, so it’s game on now'

Dundalk have fired a shot in the title race and are back on top of the league after a 2-0 win at Bohs.

Dundalk's John Gill.
Dundalk's John Gill.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

RUMOURS OF OUR demise…etc. 

Okay, they had a couple of games in hand, but it’s just over a month since Dundalk trailed Shamrock Rovers by fully 13 points. 

After last night’s 2-0 win away to Bohemians, the Champions now top the table on goal difference, level with Rovers having played the same number of games. 

So as football across Europe shook itself up this week, Dundalk have quietly asserted the established order. 

This was their sixth win in seven games, the outlier being a 2-2 draw with Derry City last Friday.

“We never really focused on that, other people in the media focused on the 13 points”, Dundalk’s first-team coach John Gill told The42 after last night’s victory.

“We just focused on the next game. We’ve been fairly consistent in the last seven or eight games, and shown a bit of form.

“We probably haven’t played as well as we’d have liked to play, but we’ve played well in patches and we’ll keep going on.

“We have a difficult game against Cork next week, so we’ll be in the gym tomorrow morning and start our recovery, then we’ll go and try and get three points in Cork next week.” 

That said, their feeling written off did spur them on. 

“It was a big motivation. But all we’ve done is win some football games. We’ve clawed it back, so it’s game on now.

“But look, there’s still another 17 games to go, so we’ll just focus on the next game.

“Historically we have always got stronger in the second half of the season, that’s what we’ll be looking to do.” 

Dundalk scored in either half at Dalymount – Georgie Kelly scored a classy opening goal midway through the first half, and Sean Hoare headed a second in the closing stages of the game to make the final few minutes a bit more comfortable. 

Kelly was playing in the place of the suspended Pat Hoban, and Gill paid credit to the back-up striker after the game. 

“It’s been frustrating for Georgie, as he has had to sit ono the bench as we have probably the best centre-forward in the league in Pat Hoban.

“Georgie has bided his time, he has prepared well and been very professional, and he’s got his rewards tonight.” 

Gill was also glad with his side’s rewards, eager to accentuate the qualities of their opponents. 

“They are a really, really good side.

“They’ve given us two really tough games, they are a credit to themselves. This is a great ground to come and play football in, great supporters. 

“So we are very, very pleased to come away from here with three points, as not many teams have done that.” 

The only other side to beat Bohs in the league this season are Cork City, who won at Dalymount last week. That old rivalry is renewed at Turner’s Cross next Friday, with the Leesiders resurgent with two wins from two under interim boss John Cotter. 

Gill doesn’t necessarily agree that Dundalk have got Cork at a bad time, mind. 

“Getting Cork City at anytime down in Turner’s Cross is a bad time but we’ll relish it.

“We went down there in the President’s Cup and we did well. We played in Oriel against them and did well.

“The two sets of players know each other very well, there’s a rivalry there. League tables won’t count for anything next week.

“There’ll be a passionate crowd down there, as Dundalk won’t be the most popular visitors.” 

This was a rivalry synonymous with Stephen Kenny and John Caulfield, both of whom have left their jobs since last year’s cup final. 

“You’ll always get change”, said Gill when that point was made to him. 

“If life stands still it would be very boring. It’s a different rivalry now. Whoever is in the dugout can’t determine what happens on the pitch, the rivalry is really between the players.

“Both sets of players know each other intimately well, so it’s a tough game for us next week.”

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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