Dundalk’s trip to Thomond Park on Friday night was a first in the club’s history but the result, a 3-2 defeat, was an unwanted second in Lilywhite manager Stephen Kenny’s managerial lifespan.
“That’s only ever happened to me once in my career when we were 2-0 up and lost 3-2. And that happened years ago”, he revealed afterwards. “It’s not a nice feeling. We’ve let three points slip there.”
Kenny made no excuses for his side’s defending on the night but he felt that the free-kick that led to Limerick’s opening goal - a foul by Andy Boyle on Craig Curran - was an incorrect decision by referee Tom Connolly.
“We scored two excellent goals but, if I’m being honest, 2-0 at half-time flattered us a bit”, said Kenny. “It wasn’t our best performance in the first-half. Limerick played well and we were never comfortable.
“The first 15 minutes of the second-half they didn’t threaten us at all so that free-kick was important”, he added. “It was never a free-kick. Andy Boyle defended it as you would expect him to and used his body really well. Saying that, it was shocking to concede the way we did for their first two goals and we paid the price.”
As well as missing Pat Hoban, Stephen O’Donnell and Keith Ward from the starting XI, Dundalk had to contend with injuries to Mark Rossiter and John Mountney which saw the duo substituted. Kenny, though, refused to use their departure as an excuse.
“We missed five altogether tonight in Ward, Hoban and O’Donnell and then we lost Rossiter and Mountney. That was an issue for us but you can still defend set plays. It may have impacted on our overall performance but we can’t blame that for the goals we conceded.”
With the other four teams in the top five all winning, Dundalk lost ground on those above them in the table but they have a chance to rectify that quickly on Friday when they travel to the Brandywell to face third placed Derry City, who sit six points ahead of the Lilywhites.
“We showed our inexperience slightly tonight. We’ve a tough game at the Brandywell next week but we’ll dust ourselves down”, said Kenny.
“Overall the players have been fantastic this season. We probably missed the organisational ability of either an O’Donnell or Rossiter. In terms of organising things I thought we were slack and to concede the goals in the manner in which we did, I’m livid about that. We’d a great chance and that’s disappointing.”