Dundalk head coach Stephen O'Donnell, left, reacts as referee Robert Hennessy issues him with a red card during the Lilywhites recent clash with St Pats in Richmond Park. (Pic: Sportsfile)
Stephen O’Donnell was left aggrieved after being dismissed towards the end of Friday night’s 1-1 SSE Airtricity League draw with St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
The Dundalk FC head coach, who had earlier received a caution from referee Robert Hennessy, was given his marching orders in stoppage-time after leaving his technical area in an attempt to throw the ball out to one of his players and launch a quick attack.
Part of the coaching ticket alongside O’Donnell at St Pats before they moved to Dundalk last December, assistant manager Patrick Cregg was also banished in the aftermath.
For O’Donnell, it was his second sending off this season after Robert Harvey also showed him a red card in a 2-1 win over Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell back in May.
Although the decision on Friday night was described as harsh by O’Donnell, it will nonetheless result in another one-game suspension down the line for the Galwegian.
“Just encroaching,” he explained when asked about his dismissal. “I was coming out of the technical area, trying to get the ball. (The first one) was also encroachment, just coming off the sideline and technical area.
I don’t know what happened (with Cregg) in that melee. I was getting my marching orders, so we’ll see. I’m not sure, we’ll have to review it.
“I think (it’s harsh). I thought we had the full momentum. You see managers everywhere running on, trying to keep a ball in or catch it and get it back to their full-back to take a quick throw.”
While undefeated at home this season, Dundalk have won only twice in 12 matches on the road – form which has put them nine points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers.
However, O’Donnell believes his side’s showing on Friday was a vast improvement from their last visit to Inchicore in April, when creativity was lacking throughout a 0-0 draw.
“I want to be coming winning games anywhere we go,” he stated. “Unless it’s really extreme circumstances and you’ve gone back home and think, how did we get away with that? I’d always be disappointed with a point to be honest.
“I thought we played better. We definitely had more spells, I thought we got into a lot of good areas.
“It’s just backing yourself personality wise, getting your game on away from home against a crowd and them type of scenarios. I thought we stuck at it well and if the game went on for a couple more minutes, I think we win the game.
“We are without doubt a work in progress. I think the drawback of when you go on a great run and you’re doing so well is people’s expectations. They take it for granted, but from where we started pre-season when I came into the job in the middle of December, I think the players have been brilliant.”
Dundalk are at Oriel Park for the next three Fridays – starting this week with another SSE Airtricity League fixture against a struggling Finn Harps side (kick-off, 7.45pm).
The Lilywhites ran out easy 3-0 winners when the sides last met at Oriel in February, with a Steven Bradley brace adding to Sam Bone’s first and so far only goal for the club.
Harps have won just once in their last 14 competitive visits to Dundalk – that came at the beginning of last season when Adam Foley netted twice in a 2-1 win for the Donegal side.
John Mountney is edging closer to a second Dundalk debut after playing another 90 minutes for the U19s in a 4-3 win over Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday.
Nathan Shepperd could also return against Harps after sitting out the St Pats game as a result of a shoulder injury picked up in the previous week’s defeat at Drogheda United.
“It looked bad when he was seen stretchered, but actually the prognosis has been the best it’s possibly been and he’ll be back training next week.
“I’d say he might have a chance, but we’ll see how he progresses. He just got a bad blow and I think with the heat, he felt a bit weak and it actually looked worse. It was more the faintness than the injury that done a bit of damage.
“He’s a tough boy and even for him to play on for the last three or four minutes after he had got the injury, that’s Nathan. You couldn’t ask for better on or off the pitch.
“He got a bad blow with Brentford, done his kidney and his spleen and was out for six months. He got a bad blow there, so he was in a bit of a panic. There’s a little bit of scar tissue there, but he’s improved every day since.”
Friday’s fixture between Dundalk and Harps will be refereed by Adriano Reale (Kildare) and can be watched live via the LOITV online streaming service for a price of €7.
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