First-team coach Vinny Perth said confidence in the Lilywhites camp is sky high going into Sunday’s FAI Cup semi-final with neighbours Drogheda United at Hunky Dory’s Park.
Dundalk bounced back from two defeats on the trot to secure European football with a 3-0 win over Derry City on Monday night.
And Perth said that he never had any doubts about the squad’s ability to recover from those two bad losses to St Patrick’s Athletic and Limerick.
“There is good character in this group and we have good people around the place. If you have good players in your group it is easy to pick them up.
“The players have achieved a lot this season and there is still a lot more that they can achieve. You can’t have doom and gloom around the place. You must be positive, wherever you are in the league. We have instilled that into them.”
The win over Derry City moved Dundalk back to within three points of leaders St Patrick’s Athletic although the Lilywhites have a game extra played.
With just four games remaining, the title is very much Pats’ to lose but Perth said he wasn’t giving up hope just yet.
“Football is the strangest thing”, he said. “I went to watch a junior game in Dublin last Sunday - Cherry Orchard and Leixlip - and a team found themselves three goals down with five minutes to go and they came back and drew 3-3.
“That’s football”, he continue. “I’m not giving up, I’m a believer and Stephen is a believer. The players believe. We won’t stop and we’ll try and win every game and see where it takes us.”
Focus this weekend turns to the FAI Cup semi-final with Mick Cooke’s Drogheda United in what is being billed as the biggest Louth derby of all time.
And Perth, with two FAI Cup winners medals to his name, said that winning the game is the only objective.
“Drogheda United play a lot similarly to Derry City in terms of physical set pieces but there are different things at stake.
“The trick with Sunday is about being in the cup final at the end of the day. I’ve been involved in three FAI Cup finals and won two. There’s a way to wining cups and it’s not necessarily about winning them all. Hopefully it goes like that again on Sunday.”
Key to Sunday’s outcome will be the performance of the Dundalk midfield.
Richie Towell - who scored a hat-trick - and Chris Shields were imperious in the win over Derry City and Perth feels that Shields’s physical approach will be ideally suited to the confines of Hunky Dory’s Park.
“We’re not taking one bit away from Richie but Chris Shields was robbed of the man of the match award against Derry by Richie getting a hat-trick.
“Richie would be the first to tell you that Chris’s influence in the team has meant him becoming a different type of player.
“Chris has come into the team and allowed us to play in a way that allows Richie Towell to score goals. He was fantastic against Derry.
“He gives us a bit of steel”, added Perth. “Sometimes in games you need a tackle. He made a great tackle after two and a half minutes and it’s little things like that that can inspire you and give you confidence. His use of the ball was also phenomenal.”
Perth also lavished praise on Towell - who just two days before the Derry City game lost his grandmother - labelling him the ‘best player in the country’.
“Richie can do the defensive midfielder, he can do the attacking midfielder, he has the all round game and it’s a wonder performance from the best player in the country by far all season.”