The Dundalk squad was due to return to training last night (Monday) after enjoying the luxury of a rare weekend off following the 1-1 draw with Bohemians on Friday, a game that represented Dundalk’s third in the space of just six days.
The action packed schedule began with a 1-0 win in Sligo on March 22. This was followed by the Setanta Cup semi-final first leg victory over Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght two nights later before the Bohs game on Friday.
A gruelling schedule for anyone but one that the Dundalk players are revelling in according to Lilywhites Strength and Conditioning Coach Graham Byrne.
“It was a tough week overall but when the odds are stacked against our players there is an unbelievable sense of spirit comes amongst them”, he said.
“If any other team in the country found out they were playing in Sligo on a Saturday night and then in Tallaght 48 hours later they would have been apprehensive. Not our lads. Every single one of of them relish that challenge. We used it as an opportunity to show how hard we’ve been working.”
The only telltale signs of fatigue came in the final stages of the win over Shamrock Rovers but Byrne said that was to be expected.
“There is only so much your body can take. The intensity that we play at and the closing and pressing that we demand out of players eventually takes its toll, regardless of how fit you are. The lads didn’t have anymore to give in Tallaght. You can be as fit as you can be but ultimately you do run out of fuel.”
Dundalk have the benefit of a full week to prepare for Friday’s trip to face champions St Pat’s. And on the back of such a hectic period, Byrne said that sort of recovery time is invaluable.
“Recovery is so important. Luckily enough we didn’t suffer any sort of calf injuries or muscle injuries in the last three games. We’ve done really well in that regard.
“To be fair, the club have been very supportive in terms of pre-match meals and overnight stays and it paid off last week when we stayed in Sligo on the Saturday night.
“In terms of recovery, the worst thing a player can do after a game is sit around,” he added.
“People think players should get their feet up for 48 hours after such a heavy schedule but that is the worst thing that can do. They need to recover, get moving and do their stretches and pool sessions because it’s all well and good having the best players in the country but you have to look after them.
“I use the analogy of having a Ferrari. If you have one in the garage you wouldn’t wash it with dirty water. You have to give it the best of care. It’s the same with players,” he added.