Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has issued Michael Duffy with a goal target after watching the flying winger tear St Patrick’s Athletic apart on Monday night.
The Derryman scored a screamer and also set up Jamie McGrath for Dundalk’s fifth and final strike, taking his tally for the season to seven goals and eight assists.
Speaking afterwards, Kenny wryly described the former Celtic man’s form as being ‘alright’ but said he wanted Duffy to make a big impact in one of the ‘bigger’ games.
“Michael scored a great goal tonight but what I want him to do is get the first one in a big game now. That’s what we want. He was very unlucky to hit the post aswell with a brilliant header. It was a great cross by Dean Jarvis and a great header.”
While Duffy was running Pat’s ragged on the left, John Mountney was also heavily involved on the other flank. The boy from Bohola has made a big impact since returning from a knee injury and Kenny was quick to hail his contribution.
“John has really matured as a player and as a man. He looks like he is making better decisions and he is taking responsibility. He is showing a lot of different qualities and he has really done well, better than I could have hoped for after being out for such a long time.”
After missing a barrage of chances in the first-half, Dundalk finally hit the front with just 30 seconds of the second-half played when Patrick Hoban’s long-range shot took a wicked deflection off Kevin Toner and they opened up after that, putting Liam Buckley’s men to the sword.
“The players were very disappointed it was scoreless at half-time but I told them I was so proud of their display, it was just a combination of superb goalkeeping and bad luck but persistence paid off in the end,” said Kenny.
“It’s ironic because Patrick hit a couple of clean strikes that Barry Murphy saved and the first one ended up being a bit of a scruffy one but that’s the way it goes,” he added.
“After that, I thought that some of the football was of the highest order. There was some great passages of play and the movement of the front players was very good.
“St Patrick’s are a good team but we just found our rhythm tonight. It was probably our best performance of the season, a really brilliant display overall.”
The 5–0 rout, coupled with Cork City’s 3–0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers, saw Dundalk move back to the summit of the SSE Airtricity League table, just 72 hours after losing top spot to the Leesiders.
“That’s the things about getting high and low after matches,” said Kenny. “We were so down after the game on Friday and everybody was talking Cork up and then it changes again after a few days.”
Next up is a trip to the sunny south-east when Dundalk face Waterford at the RSC on Friday night. The Blues are sitting nicely, just three points off the top and Kenny sees them as a real threat.
“Waterford are serious contenders,” he nodded. “They’re not in Europe which is a major thing and they had a great win in Dalymount Park on Monday night.
“They’re having an amazing season and they have a very strong squad. They’re only three points behind us now and that’s a big game for us on Friday.”
Sam Byrne is a doubt for the clash after limping off with a hamstring injury, just four minutes after coming on for Patrick Hoban. The striker was replaced by Jamie McGrath but Kenny said his withdrawal was a ‘precaution’.
“We don’t think that Sam is too bad. He went to back heel the ball and he just felt a spasm. We took him off more as a precaution. We don’t think it’s a real tear, more a low grade hamstring strain. If he had stayed on, he might have ripped it so we wanted to get him off.”
Dan Cleary, meanwhile, is set to miss the trip to Derry on May 14th after picking up his fifth booking of the season on Monday night, a decision that left Kenny ‘raging’ while Lithuanian midfielder Karolis Chvedukas will have an injection on his troublesome ankle this week.
“Karolis has had a problematic ankle issue on the bone,” said Kenny. “It’s just pain and it’s something that we are trying to address. He’s seeing the best doctors possible. Surgery is a possibility but it’s something we’re trying to avoid.”
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