IF there is one man well qualified to talk about Shamrock Rovers penalties it is Stephen O’Donnell.
The new Dundalk captain earned a place in Rovers folklore when his penalty secured the Hoops a famous win over Partizan Belgrade in August 2011 to book their place in the group stages of the Europa League.
O’Donnell could only look on as Gary McCabe stepped up to take aim from 12-yards against the Lilywhites on Friday night but, thankfully, for the skipper and his Duyndalk counterparts, the Rovers winger saw his scuffed effort saved by Peter Cherrie.
“In fairness to Gaz (McCabe), he slipped when he took it but we saw with Wayne Rooney a few months ago that sometimes when you slip it can still fly in. Luckily Pete guessed the right way and made the stop.”
In O’Donnell’s mind, it was a case of justice being served.
“The foul that led to the penalty was definitely outside the box”, he said. “If I look back and see it was inside I will be astounded.”
Whilst many left the Carrick Road venue delighted with what they saw from Stephen Kenny’s new look side, O’Donnell took a different outlook, which is hardly surprising considering he has two League of Ireland titles under his belt.
“It’s a good, solid start but we can’t be happy with just getting a point. We have players in there who are capable of winning games. It is important not to get beat but we can’t be patting ourselves on the back for getting a point.
“We played some good stuff in the first-half”, he added. “It was tricky enough. There was a string wind and we played with it in the first-half. The tendency is to drop back when it’s against you and we we weren’t too great at the start of the second-half. We came into it near the end though and we had a few chances to win it.”
O’Donnell agreed that Rovers - despite having the benefit of three Setanta Cup games under their belt - looked very subdued throughout.
“Oriel Park has always been a hard place to come. With the exception of last year, Dundalk have always had good sides. You look back at the team from a few years back with Mark Quigley and Jason Byrne, Rovers don’t tend to get anything too easy here.”
A crowd of 2598 witnessed the encounter and O’Donnell is hoping that they will be encouraged by what they saw, particularly with home games against Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United to come.
“With the buzz going about, it would have been terrible to turn up tonight in front of a big crowd and get stuffed. Half of them wouldn’t have come back. I think we’ve dome enough to get them back but there’s still plenty left in the tank.”