Dundalk centre-back Andy Boyle summed up the thoughts of everybody associated with the club when he spoke to the Dundalk Democrat following Sunday’s FAI Cup semi-final.
Disappointment was etched all over the defender’s face as he tried to make sense of referee Anthony Butttimer’s decision to send Darren Meenan, and then award a penalty against and subsequently also send Chris Shields off, leaving Dundalk’s dreams of silverware in tatters.
“I have to be careful what I say but the two sendings off…...We all said to him, when you watch it back..I’m lost for words. For him (Buttimer) to take away what we’ve worked hard for all season is really disappointing.
“If you turn up on the day and you are beaten by the better side then you hold your hands up and you’ll take that. But it’s very difficult to take the way it happened today.”
Boyle was particularly annoyed at the dismissal of Shields. Coming just five minutes after Meenan’s red card, it left Stephen Kenny’s men with an insurmountable mountain to climb.
“The first one, Darren Meenan’s, was a yellow card at most. The second one, you can clearly see the direction the ball goes after Chris Shields touched it”, remarked Boyle.
“Even if he deemed it to be penalty kick it’s not a red card because I was right behind him so Chris wasn’t the last man.
“With nine men we were resolute and we tried as hard as we could to give the fans something to shout about but obviously it’s very tough”, he added.
“You’re working so hard to get the ball back that when you do get it you are drained and in saying that they never cut us open.”
The result means that Drogheda United will be the Louth club at the Aviva Stadium on November 3. Boyle played at the venue with Shelbourne in the 2011 FAI Cup final and he said he was devastated at missing out on playing there with Dundalk.
“The FAI Cup final is such a big game. I’ve been there before and I’ve been telling the lads how good it is and how good of an experience it is. For that to be taken out of our hands by the referee is very tough to take.”
Dundalk have three more games before the curtain comes down on their campaign and Boyle said that maximum points was their aim.
“It has been a fantastic season and it would have been nice to top it off with a bit of silverware at the Aviva Stadium.
“All we can do now is get our heads down for the last few games. If we win our last three games we would end on 70 points and normally that wins you a title.”