“Two nil down with 15 minutes to go. I think that’s a point gained in the end.”
Those were the words of Tiarnan Mulvenna following a pulsating end to the 150th Louth derby at Oriel Park on Holy Thursday which saw Dundalk score two goals in two minutes to secure a point against Drogheda United.
It looked like the game was up for the home team when Ryan Brennan headed Drogheda United into a two goal lead after 72 minutes but Keith Ward got the Lilywhites back into things with a fantastic free-kick just three minutes later.
“Everybody knows Wardy has that in his locker”, said Mulvenna. “He has the ability to change a game in a second.”
And Oriel Park was still rocking when Dundalk drew level within 60 seconds. Mulvenna played a key role in the equaliser, winning the penalty that led to Alan Byrne’s dismissal and John Dillon restoring parity.
A number of Drogheda players took issue with Mulvenna’s part in winning the penalty but the local striker, who spent two seasons at Hunky Dory’s Park before returning to his hometown club this season, said referee Padraic Sutton made the right call.
“One of their lads sort of dilly dallied on the ball from the kick off and we won it back straight away. Darren Meenan played it into me and I got the touch and went down when I felt the contact from Alan Byrne. There was no doubt it was a penalty”.
Byrne and Mulvenna clashed earlier in the game when the Drogs centre-back was shown a yellow card for a robust challenge on the striker right in front of the Dundalk bench. Despite this, Mulvenna said he had no axe to grind with his former team-mate.
“I don’t hold any grudges. Alan is a wholehearted player and I knew it was coming. That’s why I kicked the ball away as far as I could”, he quipped.
Despite picking up a positive result, Mulvenna felt that Dundalk were far from at their best during the 90 minutes. He put it down to a number of reasons.
“Our passing game wasn’t what it was. We didn’t move the ball quickly and at times we looked sluggish. Stephen made a few changes to the team aswell and it didn’t quite work. It was my first 90 minutes in a long time and it was the same for Darren Meenan.
“To get a point in that situation is a big thing for us”, he added. “There are a few experienced heads in there but we’re a young side and to show fighting qualities like that will surely only stand us in good stead as the season goes on.”