ONE of the stars of Dundalk’s win in Tolka Park on Friday night was ex-Shelbourne player John Sullivan.
The 22-year-old midfielder turned right-back enjoyed his return to the Richmond Road venue and spent much of the night camped in the Shels half as Dundalk ran out 3-1 winners.
Much was made of Stephen Kenny’s decision to switch Sullivan from central midfield to full-back but speaking afterwards, he said he was enjoying his new role.
“I love it”, he said. “I didn’t mind when Stephen asked me to play there. I knew I would get the ball down and I would have more time on it. I’m comfortable on the ball and I feel more positive. I believe in my ability a lot more and it gives me a license to get forward.”
His performances have not gone unnoticed by Kenny who labelled Sullivan’s performance as ‘terrific’ on Friday night.
“He hasn’t played right-back since he was U15 or something like that”, said Kenny. “When I met him I told him I was impressed with his attitude and I liked what I was hearing about him.
“I said, ‘if I sign you will you consider playing at right-back because I am overloaded with midfielders and I won’t be playing you there’. He said he was delighted to sign and that he would play anywhere and in fairness he has been great.”
Reflecting on the win, Sullivan revealed that the mood in the dundalk dressing room at half-time was good, even though they fell 1-0 behind to a Dean Kelly goal in the 44th minute.
“We believe in ourselves and we know what we are capable of”, he said. “We knew we shouldn’t have been one down at half-time but we came out with a clean slate in the second-half.
“Once we play at our tempo there isn’t too many who can keep up with us. We knew we would score and once we did we knew more would come.
“A lot of people looking at the league wouldn’t have rated us as a team but four points from six is a great start and we can only get better as we gel more as a team.”
One concern for Dundalk on the night was the state of the Tolka Park pitch with Sullivan and his manager both claiming that it was hard to adjust to.
“It was a lot different playing on the grass after the astroturf”, said Sullivan. “The pitch was heavy but after ten minutes we adjusted to it and adapted.”
“Moving from the artificial turf to the grass was tough”, added Kenny. “The pitch looked great on the eye and the ground staff have done a good job but with the incessant rain it was heavy underfoot. I want us to be brave but sometimes you have to adapt to the conditions. We caused ourselves a few problems at times.”
Kenny also said that he had been rebuffed by local clubs in his search for training facilities ahead of the game.
“We tried to get a grass to train on this week in Dundalk but we found it difficult. The clubs have to look after themselves I suppose.”