DUNDALK FC first-team coach John Whyte said that the Louth derby in Hunky Dory’s Park was the ideal place for the Lilywhites to show a response to the disappointing home defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic a week earlier.
Sean McCaffrey’s new look side were second best to the Saints in their opening home game of the campaign, losing 2-0, but they showcased a steely resolve in the scoreless draw with the Boynesiders on Friday night.
The Drogs finished the game with nine men after seeing Paul Crowley and Eric Foley sent off in the final 13 minutes and although Dundalk were unhappy at not picking up all three points, Whyte said the coaching staff were delighted with the display and effort put in.
“As a player you want the next game to be a big game. You want to play in front of a big crowd, you want to know there will be tackles flying in, survival of the fittest almost. That’s why we were delighted that tonight’s game followed on from last week. A derby game was perfect as opposed to a game with no atmosphere or support.
“It was a brilliant performance from start to finish. We started off brightly but they came into it and took control of midfield but we got to grips with it again. It was massive to have Chris Shields back in the team playing alongside John Mountney. The lads rolled their sleeves up. They knew it would be a battle and we knew that if could win those one on one encounters then we had a great chance of winning the game.
When Foley was shown a red card with just 13 minutes to go, there was a real sense that Dundalk would pick up their first win of the season.
“At that stage, we went three at the back and five in the middle, pushing our wide men on”, said Whyte. “We had chances. Chris Reilly was unlucky in the last minute. I was just speaking to Chris and he said it took a deflection just as it arrived at him. It him on the shoulder and the face at the same time, he just couldn’t readjust.
“Michael Rafter also had a couple of great efforts from free-kicks. They have been working on set-pieces during the week and their goalkeeper pulled off a a couple of great saves.
“Overall we’re disappointed we didn’t get the three points but we’re very impressed with the performance. Everybody put in a great shift, they all got stuck in and nobody shirked their responsibilities”