Dundalk FC's Chris Shields and Michael O'Connor of Waterford FC during Friday night's SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixture at the RSC. (Pic: Sportsfile)
John Gill says Dundalk FC displayed “different qualities” to find a way to win in Waterford, after an out-of-sorts performance due partly to it being their 16th game across all competitions in just 58 days.
The Lilywhites had dispatched Waterford with relative ease in their previous four meetings this season. However, they were made to work all the way to come out on top 1-0 at the RSC on Friday, where they appeared to be suffering the effects of a draining EA SPORTS Cup final.
The winning goal was a gift from Blues defender Rob Slevin, but Dundalk took full advantage to unwrap their present of a precious three points as captain Patrick Hoban unselfishly provided Daniel Kelly with the 38th-minute tap-in.
Dundalk were much improved in the second half and controlled the game without finding a killer goal, but one – Kelly’s 12th of the season – was enough to get them over the line.
“Sometimes, there are different ways to win games,” first-team coach Gill said afterwards. “We probably weren’t at our best, but we showed different qualities – we dug in.
“We’ve had a lot of travelling to do over the last few weeks. I’m not making excuses, but the schedule has been tough. I think you maybe saw a tired, at times flat performance.
“But these guys have a way to win games, they know how to dig deep and they’ve been down this road before. We’re thrilled with the three points.
“In fairness to Waterford, that’s the best I’ve seen them play. They really put it up to us, particularly in the first half. They were the better team in the first half.
“But once we got the goal, we started to get a little bit more of a foothold in the game. Sometimes, coming to a place like this, you’ve got to do that – you’ve got to roll up your sleeves. There are different ways to win games – we showed a different side to us, that we’re able to roll up our sleeves and dig out a result. That’s what you’ve got to do when you’re playing for big prizes.”