New Dundalk head coach, Vinny Perth, says that Saturday night’s President’s Cup win over Cork City was the team and management proving themselves.
Perth took over from Stephen Kenny (who left to become Ireland U21 manager) and has now begun his reign with a win, thanks to goals from Massey and Hoban at Turner’s Cross.
Afterwards, the victorious Lilywhites posed for a picture in front of their supporters at the St Anne’s End to express unity of purpose and show that they can still be the top team in the country,without Kenny.
“I was roped into the photograph and it’s not something I’d have done before, but I think everybody — all the staff and all the players were in the photograph — there is this ‘we’ element about what we’re doing,” he said.
“The whole lot of us feel we have something to prove. We’ve been left behind a little bit over the past couple of months, in terms of what happened in the change in the club. Everybody feels we have something to prove. There’s a ‘we’ about us. It is about continuity, it is about people who’ve achieved so much over the last five or six years to say ‘it’s our time to shine’.”
With Dundalk not having lost any key players, Perth chose the same starting 11 as for November’s FAI Cup final win over City and he was repaid. Michael Duffy ran the game in the first-half, assisting Massey’s goal in the 36th minute and Hoban’s in first-half injury-time.
While Kevin O’Connor, back at City on loan, marked his return with a goal from a free-kick, just after coming on, the visitors held out.
“We would have planned to make more substitutions than we did tonight,” Perth said.
“We were allowed six, but it was evident that both teams sort of went for it a little bit and it meant something to both. I would have thought Cork would have had the same thinking, ‘We’ll make a few changes ahead of next week,’ but neither of us did. It was a proper challenge.
“There might not have been loads of free-flowing football, but I still think it was a good game, a good spectacle. So, we’ve learned loads out of it again, ahead of next week and Sligo, and, again, that was about continuity. We sort of stuck by what we believed.
“We’ve had a lot of people that have signed for the club chomping to get into the team and we gave the lads that are there their opportunity.”
Dundalk were far superior in the first-half, with City unable to create much. Duffy tested Mark McNulty early on and sent a free-kick just wide before the opener came.
After new City defender, Dan Casey, deflected John Mountney’s shot wide, Duffy’s delivery from the corner allowed Massey to rise unmarked and send the ball home. The hosts did attack more after that, with Dáire O’Connor almost setting up Graham Cummins, but the second Dundalk goal came just before the break. Somewhat fittingly, it was their three stars from last season who combined: Shields sent a lovely ball forward to Duffy and his cross from the left was put beyond McNulty by Hoban’s glancing header.
City did improve hugely on the resumption, with Dáire O’Connor, impressive as UCD won the First Division last year, the key creative outlet. It was he who was fouled 25 yards from goal in the 65th minute. His namesake, Kevin, only just on the field after rejoining from Preston North End, sent the ball to the top corner from the free-kick.
However, despite plenty of pressure from there to the end, the Rebel Army were unable to sufficiently test Gary Rogers in the Dundalk goal, meaning an equaliser remained elusive.
City manager, John Caulfield, accepted that his team had been bettered in the first-half, but was happier with what he saw after the break.
“We’re disappointed, because we were nervy early on; we didn’t pass the ball quickly enough and Dundak dominated,” he said.
“Certainly, in the second-half we were much better; we moved the ball a lot better, our angles were good, and we were creating lots of space and getting in behind.
“They [Dundalk] are good at telling the referees what to do; that’s their experience. We’re young and innocent and that’s the way it goes.
“They’re again the team to beat; they’re clever and they’re cute and they’re experienced.”
CORK CITY: McNulty; McCarthy, Casey, McLoughlin, Griffin; McCormack (K O’Connor 62), Morrissey; D O’Connor, Buckley, Tilley; Cummins.
DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Massey; Shields, Benson (Jarvis 90); Mountney, McEleney (Murray 68), Duffy; Hoban (G Kelly 83).
Referee: R Hennessy (Clare).