Dundalk assistant manager Darius Kierans has admitted his relegation fears after their heavy defeat by Shelbourne left them with just two wins in their last 13 league outings.
The Oriel Park club has been under a dark cloud for a number of weeks due to serious financial difficulties, but even if they survive to the end of the season, they look set for a long battle with UCD to avoid the drop to the First Division.
Friday night saw them put in undoubtedly their worst performance since returning to the Premier Division almost four years ago
Kierans says the club’s ongoing problems are no excuse for such a display and warned that they need to quickly turn their form around.
“It was a terrible performance,” the 33-year-old said. “We were second best all over the park. We never got going at all.
“In the first half, we probably could have been 1-0 up. Michael Rafter had a good chance before they scored, but after that we were second best all night. We were too far off them in the middle of the park, we were too deep as a back four and it just wasn’t good enough.
“It’s easy to blame what is going on off-the-field. Players will look for excuses, but we trained well all week and we just had a flat performance – that’s what it looks like.
“We performed well against Sligo last week, you’re hoping to build on that and we felt we could go and get three points.
“But after Michael’s chance, we were non-existent. It was poor. We had too many poor players and too many players that weren’t ‘at it’.
“It’s form that’s going to get you relegated. We need to start picking up points. We have had a few decent performances in there against top teams. Sometimes, this team wins when nobody expects them to.
“We have Shamrock Rovers at home next and it’s a game where we have got to bounce back, because if we play like that again then we’re going to struggle.
“It’s still early in the season. It was a bad performance. Last week, we could have beaten the league leaders and probably the champions elect in Sligo Rovers.
“We’re a young team and we’re liable to have off-nights like this, but at this stage we need wins.
“What’s going on off-the-field – it’s not something I can comment on because I don’t know a whole lot about it – but we need to get it right on-the-pitch and we need to get it right soon.”
However, despite their struggles, Kierans insisted he has never thought about walking away. “No; I enjoy working in Dundalk,” he said.
“I enjoy working in the football club. I enjoyed it last year under Ian (Foster) and I’m enjoying it this season under Seán.
“What breaks my heart is the supporters and the history of the club – I hope the club can stay alive. There are fans that just idolise and love the club and it’s their life.
“Hopefully, the club can stay alive and survive that, but I have no intentions of walking away because it has got difficult on and off-the-field. I’m still young and I’m learning, and whether it’s good or bad, you learn from every experience.”