Ryan Byrne/INPHO Vinny Perth lifting the trophy alongside his players last night.
# Cross border
'There's been no trouble' - Dundalk boss responds to pro-IRA chants from fans
Vinny Perth says both clubs had ‘outstanding’ respect for each other in the Unite The Union Champions Cup.

DUNDALK COACH VINNY Perth believes only “a small minority of people” took part in sectarian chanting at Oriel Park last night. 

Having drawn 1-1 at Windsor Park on Friday, the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division winners earned a 6-0 victory over Linfield in the second leg of the inaugural Unite The Union Champions Cup

During the game, a pro-IRA song was picked up by television microphones, but the Lilywhites boss insisted there was the utmost respect between the two clubs. Both sets of fans had also been involved in some unsavoury chanting during the first leg. 

“I think there was a certain amount of little things and they were shut down pretty quickly,” Perth said after the match. 

“I grew up in an ivory tower up in Dublin during the ’80s. I only saw the Troubles on a TV screen but I understand that the border counties suffered a lot.

“At the same time, this is a football match and all that matters is football. Some people will see it as an opportunity to get one over on others. I think the respect the two clubs had for each other, on the pitch and off the pitch, on the benches, was outstanding. 

“We need to be careful that we don’t present that as anything other than a small minority of people. Football all over the world is based on rivalry, whether you go to Barcelona-Real Madrid, Man United-Liverpool, Celtic-Rangers or Boca Juniors-River Plate.

There needs to be that bit of tension to create an atmosphere but not if it crosses the line.

“You hear chants about Munich and about Hillsborough. That’s part of football and there will always be people who take it down to that level. But as I said to you, there is a respect between these two clubs. They’ve gone home and there has been no trouble.”

Dundalk FC / YouTube

The chants and the one-sided manner of the result are unlikely to aid attempts to establish an all-Ireland league, which suffered a major blow last month when Kieran Lucid’s proposals were turned down by the Irish Football Association

“Tonight will damage it [the idea of an all-Ireland league],” said Perth. “There’s no doubt about it, and I accept that. 

“What do you do? They were under-strength, we were under-strength going up there on Friday. If you got the two leagues together there would have to be safety net for the Northern teams. 

“I think that’s important. How we protect European spots needs to be taken into account as well. But look, both leagues need to improve. There’s a willingness on our side but I understand the reservations on their side. Tonight will heighten that. 

We need to do something different anyway because what we’re doing is not good enough. In my opinion, the players in this league are disrespected and they don’t get the backing they need. The administration is not good enough and it needs to change.” 

Dundalk midfielder Robbie Benson confirmed after the final whistle that he had played his last game for the club, with a move to St Patrick’s Athletic expected. Team-mate Jamie McGrath could also be on his way out, but Perth has not given up hope of keeping the 23-year-old. 

jamie-mcgrath-celebrates-scoring Ryan Byrne / INPHO Jamie McGrath celebrates his goal. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s up for Robbie to say what he has to say and we’ll chat about that later in the week,” he added. “From Jamie McGrath’s point of view, he’s out of contract and he has listened to other offers. They’re outside of Ireland and I’d like to think if he stays in Ireland he’ll stay with us. We respect that. 

“To be honest, because we won the league so early we’re a long way down the road with different scenarios. We’re probably better prepared this year for next season than we’ve ever been. 

“Every year, there has been big players leaving this club. Last year, it was a big manager in Stephen Kenny and a big player in Stephen O’Donnell. As much as Robbie and Jamie leaving would be a blow, we’ve been prepared for that for a couple of months.” 

Reporting by Niall Newberry 

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