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08 Aug 2022

The Commentary Box: Another managerial dismissal could prove costly for Dundalk

The Commentary Box: Another managerial dismissal could prove costly for Dundalk

Stephen O'Donnell and Neil Doyle exchange words during the recent Louth Derby. Doyle, in his role as 4th official, would play a hand in the Galwegian's dismissal on Friday night against St Pats

Dundalk came away from Inchicore on Friday night with mixed emotions when they grabbed a point 15 minutes from time from the boot of Daniel Kelly that deflected off Joe Redmond and into the net as the Lilywhites came from behind to get the goal that gave them a deserved draw.

They could have won it in injury time when Daniel Kelly headed over from close range when it could have been easier to score. But Daniel played a major part in Dundalk coming away with a point, when unlike in Drogheda the previous Friday they conceded an early goal and failed to get anything.

But this time Dundalk did come back to grab a levelling goal and were also unlucky not to get a late winner. Pats opened the scoring as early as 16 minutes when Billy King set up Eoin Doyle in the box. His effort was diverted into the net by Andy Boyle.

The big headline from the night was the sending off of manager Stephen O’Donnell in injury time along with his assistant Patrick Cregg. This was the second time that O’Donnell was sent off this season.

He got his marching orders in the Brandywell earlier in the year. In Inchicore the Dundalk manager got a second yellow card and was sent off for seemingly coming out of his technical area. He got his first yellow card in the first half for doing the same thing.

The sending off was very harsh. The 4th official, Neil Doyle, brought the matter to referee Rob Hennessey’s attention in injury time in the second half. He was duly sent off. To me it was a dreadful decision.

But O’Donnell’s assistant was given a straight red card as O’Donnell was starting to head to the exit. It’s hard to know exactly why Cregg was sent off. So it’s impossible to give a judgement call on the decision.

The Galwegian was reprimanded in United Park the week before by referee on the night Neil Doyle; but did not get a booking. This time Mr Doyle was the fourth official. He saw the Dundalk boss out of his technical area and alerted Rob Hennessey.

The referee’s decision was dreadful. To make matters worse, Dundalk’s assistant manager will also earn him a suspension along with the manager. This is something the club can ill afford to happen as both will now have to watch a couple of games from the stands.

I can never remember a Dundalk manager getting sent off twice in the one season. I can never remember both manager and assistant being sent off in the one game. But Stephen O’Donnell’s sending off was ridiculous.

There were four changes to the team that were beaten by Drogheda in United Park. Peter Cherrie came in for the injured Nathan Shepperd. Pat Hoban started in place of David McMillan. Sam Bone came in instead of Joe Adams. Keith Ward replaced Paul Doyle.

Robbie Benson was used in a wide role on the right side. This was an unusual place for Benson to be placed. But he did well. Keith Ward was placed in the centre of midfield.

Dundalk did create a couple of clearcut chances in the first half after going a going a goal down. Keith Ward found himself in the clear after 24 minutes. He shot weekly wide. Lewis Macari split the Pat’s defense with a great cross on the right.

Pat Hoban fluffed his lines and headed wide from close range. Stephen Bradley, Paul Doyle, John Martin and Mark Hanratty replaced Lewis Macari, Sam Bone, Keith Ward And Darragh Leahy during the second half.

John Redmond struck the woodwork for Pat’s as the game wore on. Tunde Owloabi missed a great chance to kill the game off for Pat’s before Dundalk levelled.

Pats had at least one penalty call that was genuine as they laid siege to the Dundalk goal. But the game was turned on its head when Daniel Kelly got in for the all-important goal with 14 minutes remaining.

Both sides showed great intensity. But I think on another night Dundalk would have won. Their much-documented away form shows they have still only won two games away from home.

But if they play like this, it’s only a matter of time before the draws will be switched to wins. Peter Cherrie pulled off several fine saves as well. He proved an able deputy for Nathan Shepperd.

The Managers Reactions

Pat’s manager Tim Clancy told me that had Daniel Kelly scored his chance late on, that it would have been a smash and grab raid by Dundalk.

Clancy claimed Pat’s were the better team. He said they had two one on ones they should have capitalized on and had a stone wall penalty turned down and also hit the crossbar.

Clancy said the biggest feeling he had after the game was one of emotion. The former Drogheda United manager said it was a night of frustration for his team. He said he now has to get his team ready for the Europa Conference League game this coming Thursday.

Tim was frustrated that they had only come away with two points against Dundalk this season in their three games. He also claimed they were the better team in all of them. I have to disagree.

Dundalk were as good as Pat’s last Friday and were better than them in their win over the Dubliners at Oriel.

Stephen O’Donnell says it was a point well earned last Friday. He said he thought it was an end-to-end game and that he was happy with a lot of stuff at half time. The team were playing positionally well and getting into good areas.

He says Dundalk had good chances, but he accepted they were sloppy at times. However, they galvanized again and got their momentum back which should have seen them getting all three points.

He says he got the second yellow for going out of the technical area to throw the ball to Darragh Leahy. That was with just two minutes remaining. There is not a single manager in the country who would not do this. It was a bad call by the referee and 4th official.

Peter Cherrie

Stephen said he was disappointed Dundalk did not get all three points. Stephen felt Peter Cherrie did very well standing in for the injured Nathan Shepperd. Peter was in peak physical condition. He says you won’t get better keepers than Peter Cherrie, Nathan Shepperd and Mark Byrne.

Peter Cherrie says he was there to help the team as best he could. Peter believes that had the game gone on another five minutes his team would have won it as they finished so quickly. Peter believes the side showed great fight by digging in when they went 1-0 down.

The Scotsman confirmed Eoin Doyle’s goal happened when his shot hit off Andy Boyle as he tried to clear it. There was nothing Andy could do about it.

Peter said Dundalk were always going to get chances to get back into the game and go on and win it. He stressed the main thing was that the team got the draw and were not beaten.

Peter says Daniel Kelly is always nicking in during training and scoring against him. He said that is what Daniel does. Peter says he is just at the age where he makes sure he is at peak fitness. He says he is working every day on the training pitch and is pushing first team keeper Nathan Shepherd as much as he can.

But Peter says Nathan knows that he is always there if he needs any help from him. He noted that Nathan and third choice keeper Mark Byrne are great people. Peter says Mark is improving every week and contributes hugely to the positive atmosphere around Oriel.

Peter says Nathan Shepperd is the best goalkeeper in the league at present. And he says they have the strongest goalkeeping team in the league. Peter did make two critical saves during the game. Peter says he is in the gym every day keeping his fitness up to the best possible.

He has a very close relationship with Stephen O’Donnell. Stephen was his captain and is now his gaffer. He says the Dundalk boss has always been good to him. The way O’Donnell brought him back into Oriel this season shows his class.

Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly’s goal 15 minutes from time got Dundalk a hugely precious point. He was gutted how he missed a great chance in injury time to get the winner. He says he should have scored. Once Dundalk levelled there was always just one team who looked like getting a winner.

He says he thought it should have been Dundalk. But he continuously said throughout the interview that his miss was the only thing that was on his mind. Daniel said he got into the box and shot home for the equalizer 15 minutes from time. He confirmed it did take a deflection on the way in.

Just after talking about scoring the equalizer Daniel sighs and says it was just one of those nights. He says Darragh Leahy put in a pin-point cross to him for his miss in injury time. He doesn’t know how he missed it.

I told him Dundalk had missed quite a number of chances during the game and it was not just him. Daniel said on a personal level he and the attacking players need to be more clinical in front of goal. It was good to hear him saying then that he would take the point and move on to next week.

Daniel says Dundalk are hard to beat and that they were the better side overall. But he says being better in the final 3rd is very important and that will come. In his eyes the team’s aim must now be to win all their games home and away in the league and see where it takes them.

Daniel says going to Inchicore last Friday was always going to be difficult as they are a very difficult team to play. Daniel says Dundalk’s home record has been very good and that they wanted to beat Finn Harps next Friday to maintain and protect that.

The Dubliner noted how has been given a small license by the manager to get forward at times and that his game has improved so much under Stephen O’Donnell. He believes he can affect the game more by getting into the penalty area at times, rather than staying out wide all the time.

He exclaimed the result was hard to take, not only for him but also the players. Daniel says they all set their standards very high. He says by this time last year Dundalk were beaten twice at Inchicore.

But this season Dundalk are unbeaten there. Daniel accepts that Dundalk are in an excellent position in the league to qualify for Europe next season. But he says the team and the club will have to battle very hard to achieve this, which they can do he adds.

Final Thoughts

Mark Connolly was awarded the SSE Airtricity Irish Soccer Writers Player of the Month Award for June last Thursday. His loan contract with Dundalk will end very shortly. It’s still unclear whether he will return to his parent club Dundee United or stay on at Dundalk.

I have a hunch he will stay at Oriel. We must wait and see. Nathan Shepperd and Stephen Bradley won the soccer writers player of the month earlier this season.

Dundalk played in their all-red gear on Friday night. Usually, they play in the Orange and black Striped GNR jerseys when they are away. Why that did not happen on Friday night I do not know.

Whatever the case, Pat’s who always play in red at home, were forced to play in White Jerseys with blue shorts to avoid a clash with Dundalk.

After the game, and to my huge shock, on the way home large parts of the M50 were closed off. The detour signs were a disgrace. I got through the camera toll and suddenly was diverted off the M50.

There were no signs where to go. I know Dublin well. Eventually I saw six cars parked at a gate. These people were totally lost. I had got my bearings by now after being all over West Dublin.

I advised the other lost drivers to head north and somehow we got back on the M1. I tweeted the diversions we had to go through with no directions when I got home.

A friend who was with me took the photos. I arrived home an hour late. It was a disgrace. The detours and major road closure of parts of the M50 should have been advertised on local and national news bulletins.

I have no problems with road works happening at night. But detour signs should not leave people in a situation where they are completely lost. Have a safe week. Please look after each other and be very careful out there.

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