DFC | Clifford happy to get off the mark

Kenny backing his midfielder to chip in with goals

Dundalk FC midfielder Conor Clifford in action against UCD on Easter Monday. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Conor Clifford opened his Dundalk account in the EA Sports Cup tie against UCD on Easter Monday and Lilywhites manager Stephen Kenny is backing the 25-year-old to become a regular on the scoresheet this season.

Clifford’s crisp finish from a Dane Massey free-kick pulled Dundalk level against the Students and Kenny feels that the midfielder has the ability to chip in with some important goals.

“Conor has a very good shot on him and strikes the ball well so that will give him confidence,” said the Dundalk boss.
“I don’t think he will get goals running beyond the striker or getting on the end of stuff and finishing but he will get them from being teed up on the edge of the area, that sort of thing.”

Dundalk needed penalties to overcome the first division side, mainly because of the heroics of UCD goalkeeper Niall Corbet who almost single handedly kept the Lilywhites at bay, notably pushing away a Ciaran Kilduff penalty & turning a goalbound Tommy Stewart effort over the crossbar.

“He made some brilliant saves,” said Clifford. “We thought it might be one of those days so we’re just delighted to have kept going and I’m very happy to have got the goal. I was due one.
“It was a difficult game,” he added. “We didn’t start well and they got a goal and sat back and we found it hard to break them down. We didn’t create a lot in the first half.
“The second half was different. I thought we played really well, we dominated the ball, we created loads of chances and had a goal disallowed for offside but we just couldn’t break them down. It went to penalties and thankfully Gabby Sava did brilliantly to win it for us.”

The shootout win secured Dundalk a place in the quarter-finals against Waterford, as well as restoring a bit of confidence following the 3–1 defeat to Bray Wanderers three nights earlier.

Bohemians are next up for the champions when they visit Oriel Park on Friday night and Clifford said that winning is essential if Dundalk are to have any chance of reeling Cork City in.

“The main thing was to get back to winning ways today,” said Clifford. “Although it was penalties, we’re into the next round and we want to win this cup.
“Friday is a massive game for us now,” he continued. “We have to pick up three points.
“There’s no point worrying about Cork. We can’t affect what they do, we just have to worry about our own performances and get points.
“We still have to play them at Oriel Park in the next series of matches and that will be a massive game but we need to start winning games before that.”
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