Perth: 'Small minority of people' involved in Dundalk fans' pro-IRA chants

Perth: 'Small minority of people' involved in Dundalk fans' pro-IRA chants
Dundalk players celebrate after the Unite the Union Champions Cup at Oriel Park. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth believes only a small number of the club's fans were involved in sectarian chants picked up by television microphones during Monday night's Unite the Union Champions Cup tie against Linfield at Oriel Park.

The Louth side won the game 6-0 on the night to clinch the inaugural cross border competition between the league champions from north and south of the border.

While both sets of supporters tried to provoke one another across the two legs, Perth insisted Dundalk and Linfield respected each other immensely on and off the field.

"I think there were a certain amount of little things and it was shut down fairly quickly," he said when the pro-IRA songs were put to him.

"I grew up in what is called an ivory tower up in Dublin the 80s and I understand that I only seen the Troubles on a TV screen. I understand that border counties suffered a lot and that there's a real feeling towards certain things but at the same time this was a football match and all that matters is football.

"Some people will see it as an opportunity to get one over people but I think the respect the two clubs had for each other on the pitch and off the pitch was outstanding. All I can say is, we need to be careful that we don't view it as anything other than a small, small minority of people.

"Football in the world is based on a little bit of rivalry. I used the word hatred the other day but rivalry is probably the right word whether you go to Barcelona-Real Madrid, Man Utd-Liverpool, Celtic-Rangers or Boca Juniors against River Plate.

There needs to be that bit of tension I think to create better atmospheres but if it crosses the line... I think we've moved on from certain chants.

"You hear chants about Munich, about Hillsborough and they're part of football and there are people who take it down to that level but ultimately as I said there is a respect between the two clubs. If this game became the normality I think that would just drift away. They're going home. There has been no trouble and if that's the worst thing, well as my mother would say sticks and stones may break your bones but words won't hurt me."

Perth said Dundalk's emphatic 7-1 aggregate victory would do little to help an All-Island need but added that change was needed.

"Tonight will damage it, there's no doubt about that and I accept that but both leagues need to improve.

"There is a willingness on our side. I understand the reservations they have and tonight will only heighten that but we need to do something different anyway because what we're doing is not good enough. The administration of our league is not good enough and it needs to change," he said.

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