There was no hiding Stephen Kenny’s delight with Dundalk’s 2-1 win over Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Friday night with the Lilywhites manager thrilled at his side’s ‘forceful’ display.
“It’s a great win because it was a real test for us. When you lose like we did against Bohemians, it was a long week. Then we went 1-0 down so early in the game, and you’re thinking ‘bloody hell!,” said Kenny.
“Tactically, Sligo were set up a little bit differently under Joseph Ndo so we had to adapt but we showed great character. Character is an overused word but we were forceful and we showed why we are champions. We didn’t accept being 1-0 down and we came back and won the match.
“It was a very forceful display and we were relentless. We got after Sligo all over the pitch. There aren’t that many teams who have the mobility we do to close the opposition down. It might have made Sligo look erratic at times but we forced all those errors where other teams might have dropped off.
“At one stage it looked like we were facing back to back defeats and things weren’t going for us but we took the game to Sligo. Maybe our final pass fell a bit short in the final third but to get the two goals after going behind, it’s an amazing win and I’m delighted with it.”
Dundalk found themselves on the back foot when Morten Nielsen beat Gary Rogers in the 9th minute. The Lilywhites goalkeeper admitted afterwards that he should have done better with the effort but Kenny refused to point the finger at the Meathman, instead pointing to his contribution near the end of the game.
“The ball kicked up on Gary for the goal but he showed what he is about in the last few minutes when there was a couple of high balls put in right on top of him and he just came and took them. That is priceless for a back four.”
Kenny felt that his side’s comeback was down to a number of fine individual displays, notably from Chris Shields, who took control of the midfield to drive his team to victory.
“Shields put in a great shift,” remarked Kenny. “We play with five forwards and that’s why we score so many goals. He has a fair gap to plug and he has to be there with his finger in the dyke.”
The win was Dundalk’s sixth on the road and Kenny said that his side found the openness of away matches a refreshing change from the packed defences that they are usually confronted with at Oriel Park.
“Away from home we are absolutely flying. We have different challenges at home because we come up against blanket defences. We’ve only lost one game at home in two years so we are obviously doing something right but on a windy night in Oriel it can be a real leveller and you’ve got to come up with different solutions than you do when you are away from home.”