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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 16 September, 2019

‘You’re the only one of the midfield three without pneumonia'

Stephen Kenny lamented Dundalk’s problems after seeing them lose to Cork City on Sunday.

Stephen Kenny pictured during Sunday's President's Cup final.
Stephen Kenny pictured during Sunday's President's Cup final.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DUNDALK BOSS STEPHEN Kenny lamented the absence of key players as well as issues with those on the field, after seeing his team lose 4-2 to Cork City in the President’s Cup final on Sunday.

Two goals from Ronan Murray put the Lilywhites in command at Oriel Par, but the visitors secured victory, following an impressive second-half fightback, with goals from Karl Sheppard, Barry McNamee, Kieran Sadlier and Graham Cummins.

“We’ve had a tough week or two with a few things in relation to quite a few injures and we had a severe bout of flu in the camp,” Kenny said afterwards.

“We were struggling to get 11 on the park really, Krisztián Adorjan was sick, obviously Brian Gartland and Karolis Chvedukas [are] in a really bad condition.

“Robbie Benson is the other way — Robbie to be fair put himself forward today.

“As I said to Jamie McGrath at half time, ‘You’re going to have to work hard because you’re the only one of the midfield three without pneumonia.’

“Benson wasn’t in great nick coming on, he was coughing and Kristjan as well.”

Dundalk also will not be at full strength for their Premier Division season opener against Bray Wanderers on Friday night.

Stephen O’Donnell and John Mountney have both been ruled out of that game, while Dean Jarvis, Sean Hoare (who went off with a hamstring injury yesterday) and Seán Gannon are all fitness doubts.

“We knew there would be problems in the team,” added Kenny. “George Poynton is a midfielder playing right back, Chris Shields is a centre midfielder playing centre back.

We had three absolute attacking midfield players playing in midfield, with Robbie Benson sitting in, so we knew we had issues, we knew we weren’t right, Cork capitalised. They took their goals well and you know we can’t have any complaints.

“We could have been three or four up but then we conceded four in the second half, it was the first goal was a terrible goal from our point of view to give away, but that’s the way it goes.”

One positive for the hosts, however, was the performance of Murray. The striker, who was recruited in the off-season after an impressive 2017 campaign with Galway United, got his Dundalk career off to a positive start, registering an impressive brace.

“One thing we’ve seen in training and in the pre-season matches is that he’s a really exceptional finisher. His finishing is very good. He just hits the ball with pace into corners.

“He’s played in a few different positions over the pre-season for us, we’ll need that for over the weeks ahead.

“Ultimately, he’s a striker all his life, normally in a front two. He’s played as a 10 for us in pre-season and a nine. He can also play as an 11 coming in on the left. He can be an asset.”

Overall, despite Sunday’s setback, Kenny remains optimistic his side can launch a sustained title challenge this season, after finishing seven points behind Cork City last year, and trailing them by some distance for much of the campaign.

“We signed four players at the start for last year, one in the middle of the year, in Seán Hoare, Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy and they were all 21, Jamie was 20 when we signed him. A year on, Duffy, Hoare, McGrath and [Dylan] Connolly, I feel they’ll all be in a better position to have better seasons, they all had good second half of last season, but they’ll be in the position to have an impact when the season progresses.”

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Paul Fennessy

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