Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth has called on Irish football fans to support his side as their Europa League qualifying campaign continues in Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday, after seeing his side progress to the second round of the FAI Cup with a 1-0 victory over Cobh Ramblers.
“I think it’s very important - and I’m a big follower of Irish teams when they play in Europe — I think Irish football probably needs to get behind us, and I think it’s good for the league if we progress,” said Perth after the hard-earned Cup win in St Colman’s Park.
Facing a short turnaround time between games, Perth also called called for the domestic football calendar to be reassessed to facilitate progress in European competition.
“I know it’s difficult when games are called off around this time for other teams and I understand that and respect it, but for us as a league to grow we need to get credibility in Europe.
“I understand it’s difficult for other teams but we need to be careful, we play a game in less than 72 hours in one of the biggest games in the club’s history so it’s difficult.”
A second-half Georgie Kelly goal was enough to ensure progression despite a battling performance by Ramblers who had a number of chances of their own in the game.
After withstanding an early onslaught that saw goalkeeper and captain Paul Hunt twice called off his line to collect through balls, and a Sean Hoare effort that bounced off the line via the crossbar, Stuart Ashton’s First Division side grew into the game as the first half went on.
Just before half-time Ramblers almost broke the deadlock, midfielder Dave Hurley wriggling his way free of two Dundalk players before advancing towards goal. His low driving shot looked to have caught out Dundalk keeper Aaron McCarey but the ball clipped the wrong side of the post.
Within ten minutes of the second half both Sean Gannon and Michael Duffy had been introduced for the visitors.
Dundalk continued to probe the Ramblers defence before the breakthrough came in the 67th minute. Gannon provided the cross after advancing from right back, leaving Georgie Kelly with an easy headed finish from close range.
Ramblers almost equalised through substitute Cian Leonard, his 75th-minute half-volley fired just wide.
From there, Dundalk did enough to see the game out, with Hunt called into action on a number of occasions before the final whistle, denying Sean Murray from a free-kick Michael Duffy from a low drive inside the box.
Cobh Ramblers interim manager Stuart Ashton heaped praise on his players.
“The lads can go away with their heads held high after that performance. We’ve matched the best team in the country for three quarters of the game, even longer maybe, and I think at times we had them a bit rattled.”
In Saturday’s other FAI Cup fixtures, Donegal’s Glengad United advanced after an 8-7 penalty shoot-out victory over Tipperary’s St Michael’s AFC, with neither side managing to score in 120 minutes.
Crumlin United overcame Malahide United 3-1 in an all-Dublin affair, while the ‘El Clasico’ between Athlone Town and Longford Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Hunt (c); Fleming, Lyons, O’Riordan, Taylor; Henry, Hurley; O’Leary, Turner, Harlson (Cronin 74); Murphy (Leonard 67). Subs: Mylod, Leonard, Foley, Cronin, O’Connor, Lamb, O’Sullivan.
McCarey; Dummigan, Gartland (c), Cleary, Carroll (Gannon 51); Hoare, Mountney (Murray 75); D. Kelly, McEleney, Lotefa (Duffy 56); G. Kelly. Subs: Rogers, Gannon, Shields, Duffy, Hoban, Massey, Murray.