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'Our obituary was being written that night... but we're in a good place now'

Premier Division champions Dundalk have won five games in a row as they chase leaders Shamrock Rovers.

John Gill, Dundalk's first-team coach.
John Gill, Dundalk's first-team coach.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

LESS THAN THREE weeks since it appeared as though their crown may be slipping, the champions are in rude health.

With last night’s comfortable 3-0 win away to Waterford, Dundalk kept the pressure on SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders Shamrock Rovers.

The Hoops hold a four-point lead, but should Dundalk make the most of their game in hand, only the slenderest of margins will separate the champions from the challengers.

A busy April, during which the Lilywhites played seven league fixtures, began with consecutive defeats to St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers. However, embarking on a five-match winning streak — aided by the return from injury of key players like Chris Shields and Patrick McEleney — has represented an emphatic response.

“Our obituary was being written that night,” Dundalk’s first-team coach John Gill told The42 last night, reflecting on their defeat in Sligo. “Some of the criticism was justified, because it was two losses in a row. We knew it wasn’t good enough. We realised that.

“They’re a very honest bunch of players in that dressing room. They look themselves in the mirror and they know when it’s not right. They buckled down, regrouped and we’ve now won five games in a row, which is a really difficult thing to do in this league.

“We had an awful lot of players out injured, but we knew what we could do once we got a fit squad. You saw with Shamrock Rovers last Friday, when you’re down big players in this league it can go against you.

Michael Duffy congratulate goal scorer Jordan Flores Dundalk's Michael Duffy congratulates team-mate Jordan Flores after his goal against Waterford. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“We’ve been excellent in the last five games in a hectic schedule. To come down and win 3-0 against a decent Waterford team, we’re happy with that. We’re building block by block, we’re getting players back from injury, but we’re in a good place now. We’ll take it one game at a time, but at the moment it’s going well.”

Michael Duffy gave Dundalk the lead shortly before half-time last night at the RSC. Jordan Flores doubled their advantage with a stunning long-range strike just over 10 minutes into the second half. Duffy rounded off the scoring moments after Waterford lost midfielder Bastien Hery to a second yellow card. 

“We know that when we’re at it and when we play to our potential, we’ll give any team in this league a game,” added Gill. “We don’t really fear anybody. But we probably had a reality check after the Sligo game that we’ve got to be on it all the time.

“You can’t be complacent in this league, as other teams have found out to their cost. There isn’t any complacency in our dressing room. It’s a very focused dressing room, there are serial winners in it and there’s a steely resolve.

“We weren’t happy with some of the criticism that we took — not so much from our own fans, but probably from certain pundits and sections of the media — but we’ve answered them back by doing what Dundalk normally do, which is winning matches.” 

Dundalk will aim to continue their winning run when they host Derry City at Oriel Park on Friday night.

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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