Richie Towell dedicated Dundalk’s Louth derby victory over Drogheda United to the family of the late Marty Shields who passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The much loved father of three from Ashling Park was a die hard supporter of the Oriel Park club and his sudden passing left many in shock.
Marty’s daughter Glenda led both sides onto the pitch before returning to The Shed where she stood in the spot where her father was almost regarded as part of the furniture.
A minute’s applause rang around the Carrick Road venue ahead of kick-off as the 3324 in attendance paid tribute to Shields.
And the tributes continued at full-time when the Dundalk players left the pitch holding a banner that said ‘RIP Marty Shields’.
Shortly after, Towerll spoke to the Dundalk Democrat and said everybody at the club were affected by the sad news that emerged that morning.
“I was getting a bit emotional before the game”, he said. “Marty’s daughter came out to the halfway line with us and she said to me ‘My daddy’s gone’.
“Football is nothing when you see something like that but hopefully the win puts a smile on her face.”
In terms of the league title, the result moves Dundalk level on points with St Patrick’s Athletic with just six games to go.
The sides meet in a televised clash at Richmond Park on Friday week and Towell said he cannot wait for the fixture to come around.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable clash”, he said. “I’m from Inchicore myself so it’s going to be that bit extra special for me. I’m sure I’ll be getting plenty of stick off my mates.”
“I’m really looking forward to it but we have Shels next in the FAI Cup quarter-final and we have to make sure we get through to the semis.”
Reflecting on the derby, Towell admitted it wasn’t a contest for the purists but he said tat coming out with the three points was all that mattered.
“It was a terrible game. I have a creak in my neck from looking at the ball in the air. I must have gone for about 500 headers. It was a brutal game and it’s not the way we set up to play. Drogheda lined up defensively and just boomed it anytime they could so it was very frustrating but to get the three points is the main thing. We would have taken a 1-0 win at the start of the game.”
Towell also paid tribute to Dundalk’s captain fantastic, Stephen O’Donnell, who popped up with the winning goal in the 88th minute.
“Stevie did great. It sums him up all season, he has been brilliant for us. His pressing, his work rate and he covers every blade of grass. It showed with the goal, he closed the defender down and then showed great calmness to slot it past the keeper like he wasn’t even there. That’s why he is the captain.”