Pat Hoban and Kurtis Byrne were two relative unknowns when Stephen Kenny brought them to Oriel Park at the start of the season but both players have been instrumental in Dundalk’s fairytale season to date.
Hoban helped himself to a hat-trick against Bohemians on Friday night, taking him to 11 for the season, and Kenny paid tribute to the 21-year-old from the west of Ireland.
“There’s more to come from Pat”, said Kenny. “You feel there is a huge rate of improvement from him every week. He is very brave. He made the first goal by being courageous and honest and he deserved his hat-trick.”
Kenny also had words of praise for Kurtis Byrne who was unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet despite being locked in a personal duel with Bohs goalkeeper Dean Delany for much of the evening.
“Kurtis Byrne’s shooting is of the highest order”, said Kenny. “It was an exhibition in technique. Some of Dean Delany’s saves were breathtaking. I don’t know how he saved the one in the first-half.
“Kurtis wasn’t always renowned for his work ethic”, he added. “That’s a big part of his game that he has really improved. His technique though in striking a ball is as good as you’ll see.”
The only negative on an otherwise great night for Duundalk were the injuries to Tiarnan Mulvenna, Dane Massey and John Sullivan who all retired early because of knocks.
“Tiarnan was picked in the team but he was having a few shots in the warm up and tweaked his groin”, revealed Kenny.
“Dane was doubtful for the game. He came through a fitness test on his knee but it caused him a few problems around the medial ligament and had to come off. John Sullivan had a dead leg. I don’t think there is anything too bad there.”
Kenny is hopeful of having all three back for the trip to Turner’s Cross to face Cork City on Friday night.
The Lilywhites will make the journey south without the services of suspended duo Richie Towell and Andy Boyle and Kenny is hoping that he does not have to contend with too many more absentees.
“For players so young, just 21, Richie and Andy have been absolutely outstanding. They have been two of our best players.
“Chris Shields and John Mountney probably won’t make it for Cork either so the timing of Brian Gartland’s acquisition has been important.
“Bohs are fighting for their lives and they picked a physical team but we competed and it’s a big win.”