DUNDALK U19 manager Martin Connolly was understandably delighted following his side’s 3-0 victory over Sligo Rovers on Saturday, a result that puts the Lilywhites in pole position of the U19 Northern Division with just one game to go.
“We’ve been a wee bit up and down all season”, said Connolly afterwards. “We’ve struggled for players and we havent had any of our first choice centre forwards for the past 10 to 12 weeks so, to be fair to them, the lads put in a great performance.
“The most pleasing thing is that, bar two of the players, every one of that team is eligible again next year for the U19s. The likes of Fergal McMahon and Kevin Loughran were excellent, young kids who can play again next season. That’s really pleasing.”
On a cold winter’s day at Oriel Park, Dundalk held the upper hand in the first-half but but just couldn’t break Sligo down, a familiar theme according to Connolly.
“We’ve played them three times and drew with them twice. I always thought we just had the edge over them in each game but just couldn’t put them away. It was the same here today in the first-half.”
The second-half saw Dundalk start on the front foot and their tactic of playing a pressing game high up the pitch reaped dividends.
“We’re very lucky here that we have Mick Neville and Liam Burns in our dressing room, two experienced centre-backs from their playing days”, said Connolly.
“The three of us spoke at half-time about pressing Sligo high up the pitch and it worked really well. It led to the penalty that gave us the lead and we were delighted with aspects of it.”
Fergal McMahon’s spot kick gave Dundalk a crucial lead and when Caolan Reilly tapped home a second soon after, Connolly’s only real concern was how to see the game out.
“Everyone hates a 2-0 lead. I was thinking ‘are we going to go and try and get a third or do we sit and hold on to it’. Luckily we finished it off and we could have had a lot more in fairness.”
Dundalk now have their sights on capturing the Northern Division title. The Lilywhites, who hold a three point lead at the top, travel to the Brandywell next Saturday to complete their season while Sligo face two tricky derby games against Letterkenny Rovers and Fanad United.
“We have to go to Derry and we’ll go there to win the game”, said Connolly. “If we do that, hopefully other results will go our way”.