DFC | Kenny focussed on league title after putting Dundalk FC’s ‘embarrassing’ defeat to Cobh behind him

Lilywhites face a critical spell of five games in 14 days

After a difficult week, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny was happy to see his side get back to winning ways in Friday night’s FAI Cup 1st Round tie at home to Cobh Ramblers.

The Lilywhites went into the game a bit punch-drunk after two straight defeats, a crushing 4–0 loss to AEK Larnaca in Cyprus followed by a humbling 1–0 loss to the Rams in Monday’s EA Sports Cup semi-final. While the manner of Dundalk’s Europa League exit stung Kenny and his players, he said the loss at St Colman’s Park was harder to digest.

“Larnaca could have got to the group stages last year so we’ve nothing to apologise for there,” said Kenny. “The players made some mistakes which can happen so people need to get real.

“On the other side of it, there was a huge effort from everyone in the town with the flags — a massive effort — and I must say that I’m touched and encouraged by the huge effort of the residents, the business owners and people driving in cars.

“After the Cobh game, we were in for training the following morning and I was driving through the town and I saw people in cars with flags coming by me and I felt a bit embarrassed having lost down in Cobh.

“We played a second string but all of the players are good enough to play and a lack of match fitness really showed in our sharpness. Cobh did a job on us and we found it difficult to break them down.

“I know the league is a priority and we’re on the club’s most successful run in 100 years but I did feel embarrassed because we shouldn’t be getting beaten by Cobh.”

Kenny rotated his squad heavily in Cobh and said it was imperative to look at the ‘bigger picture’.

“The big picture is the league and chasing everything can cost you,” he said. “We’ve won two League Cups in the past few years and I’ve won six of them personally. We would have liked to have won another one but nobody would have thanked me for it at the end of the season if we don’t win the league.”

The draw for the second round of the FAI Cup takes place on Monday evening and Kenny is aware that his team could face the prospect of four successive games on the road.

His immediate thoughts, however, are on the upcoming away trips to The Carlisle Grounds and The Showgrounds — next Friday and Monday week respectively — where six precious league points are up for grabs.

“We have five games in 14 days coming up and if we get an away draw in the FAI Cup, four of them will be away from home,” he said. “It’s a real intensive run of games. We’ll be like an NBA team, going from Bray to Sligo, to whoever we get in the cup and then on to Limerick,” he smiled.

“The margin for error is critical but we’re used to it. We’ve won three of the last four leagues so we’ve been able to win the tight finishes. It will go right down to the last game. It will be a real finale so the league is the big priority.

“The reason we want to win the league is for the glory,” he added. “The sheer euphoria of lifting trophies at Oriel Park in front of a full house with kids running around, the place is electric, the town is electric. It’s the pinnacle of a club to win your national title and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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