Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny described his side’s first half display against St Patrick’s Athletic on Monday night as ‘simply breathtaking’.
The reigning champions ended Pats’ nine game winning run with a ruthless display of attacking football and speaking afterwards, the Dundalk boss said it was a pleasure to witness.
“The first half was simply breathtaking at times and the one touch football was a joy to watch. I thought the players were exceptional. We created chance after chance and played at a level that most teams would struggle with.
“It was a tough task,” he added. “Pat’s were on a run of nine wins coming here and they thought they had a chance of winning the league if they had beaten us but it couldn’t have been any more emphatic.
“I’m delighted with the application and attitude of the players. It was a big night - with the top four teams in action - and I thought we were outstanding.”
The win, coupled with Cork City’s 3-0 loss in Tallaght, propelled Dundalk 10 points clear of the chasing pack and Kenny said it was a position his team deserved to be in.
“Our form has been outstanding. I think in any other year the gap could have been bigger. A lot of teams win the league losing six and seven games so I’m not a bit surprised that we are where we are.
“We had 4,000 here tonight and everyone of them will want to come back again next week. They were on the edge of their seats, it was that good. I mean, the move for the first goal, when Ronan Finn slipped David McMillan in was brilliant. What a finish!”
Dundalk’s victory has prompted local bookmakers BoyleSports to pay out on the champions retaining their league crown. Kenny, though, played down talk that the title was in the bag.
“We’re very level headed. We have to play Shamrock Rovers twice, we have Bohemians away in our next league game and we still have to go away to places like Limerick and Cork.
“But the league is our priority and always has been,” he added. “We are trying to do something that this club have not achieved in 100 years, winning back to back titles, so it’s everything for us.”
Kenny’s counterpart on Monday night, Pat’s boss Liam Buckley, feels that nobody will stop Dundalk from being crowned champions for an 11th time.
“Dundalk won’t be caught. How many have they lost this season? One game? I don’t see them losing four or five that they have to, bearing in mind they don’t’ have to play us – though maybe they wouldn’t mind after that! We’re now in a dogfight with Shamrock Rovers and Cork for two places and Europe.”
As well as his side’s dreadful first half performance, Buckley was also unhappy with Richie Towell’s part in the incident which led to Jamie McGrath having to limp off with a facial injury in the 66th minute.
“We need to check Jamie’s nose to see if it’s broken. It’s a red card all day long. Either it’s nothing or a red card. But look, that didn’t change the game,” said Buckley.