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'I’ve seen it on video. For me, it’s clearly onside' - Controversy as Dundalk exit Europe

Vinny Perth expressed unhappiness with the officiating following his side’s loss to Vitesse last night.

Dundalk manager Vinny Perth applauds the crowd after the game.
Dundalk manager Vinny Perth applauds the crowd after the game.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

DUNDALK BOSS Vinny Perth was critical of a costly refereeing decision but did not want to be seen to be giving excuses, as his side exited Europe in frustrating fashion, with 1,500 fans watching at Tallaght Stadium last night.

Michael Duffy found the net after just 40 seconds against Vitesse, finishing emphatically after being slipped through by Will Patching, though the partisan crowd’s ecstasy quickly turned to frustration, as it was ruled out for offside.

The Lilywhites ultimately lost 2-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate as they bowed out in the Europa Conference League third qualifying round against the side that finished fourth in last season’s Eredivisie.

And Perth afterwards expressed unhappiness with the officials’ call to disallow the early strike, which would have been a major boost to his side’s hopes of progression.

“I’ve seen it on video,” he told reporters. “For me, unless I’m missing something, it’s clearly onside. So, it’s very disappointing. The refereeing standard [in general] so far has been outstanding.

“I just thought they were far short of the level that’s required.”

Asked whether his team could take encouragement from providing a serious test to a side from one of the most highly regarded leagues in Europe, the Dundalk coach was reluctant to dwell on the positive aspects of the tie.

“We don’t do moral victories at this football club. The players are devastated. I’ve got to look at that. Did I make mistakes to allow them into that lead? I’ve got to analyse that, how we ended up in that situation.

“They were very lucky side to get out of here, at least [to avoid being] taken to extra-time. So while I’m very proud of the players, I’m also very disappointed we haven’t taken them to extra time. If we had, there’s only one winner, as they’re out on their feet. We’ve pushed a really tough side all the way.

“Yeah, we were unlucky. Ultimately, we haven’t taken that big moment that was there for someone to take. It’s not a group that likes moral victories. It’s going to hurt and take a while to get over. We have to take it on the chin.”

Perth also suggested there was more to come from Vitesse, an esteemed club whose former players include Philip Cocu, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Nemanja Matic.

“I’d be interested to see how they get on in the next couple of weeks. I think they’re a good side, probably didn’t show their best side tonight. Maybe it was because we were good — I hope it was. I think their ‘keeper was outstanding in the final 15-minute period. Ultimately, that was probably the difference.”

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Dundalk’s main focus now will be on securing a spot in Europe for next season. On the basis of last night’s performance, they are a team good enough to compete at that level, but whether they will fulfil that ambition is far from certain, with the club currently seventh in the table after several indifferent domestic displays and needing a top-three finish to guarantee further adventures abroad.

“We’ve 15 games, plenty of points to play for. We’ve got to get over tonight, which will be difficult, and get back on the bike again on Sunday. You deal with what was thrown at us and get on with it in Derry on Sunday. We’ve a squad capable of getting back in Europe and it’s the job of myself and all the players to get this club back to Europe when the season ends.”

He continued: “I think Irish football is turning a tide. We’re seeing the emergence of quality coaches in Irish football. Look at the job Stephen O’Donnell and Ruaidhri Higgins have done, Keith Long, Stephen Bradley, Tim Clancy. We’ve all kicked the FAI for many years, but I think we’re thereabouts in quality of coaching and it’s playing out on the pitch. And I think technically, our players have improved so much.

“Back in the day, we had some great results, but I think technically a lot of our players can match the levels of an Eredivisie side, so that’s a huge improvement in Irish football. We’ve got to build on this. We’ve had so many false dawns before.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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