Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

Kenny: We fully deserved to win the derby

Gannon injury the only negative of a good night

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny felt his side were worthy winners of the first Louth derby of the 2017 campaign on Friday night.

The reigning SSE Airtricity League champions bounced back from their defeat to Cork City six days earlier with a 3–1 win over Drogheda United at Oriel Park, a result that keeps them six points behind the Leesiders in second place.

Injuries and suspensions forced Kenny into making a host of changes to his team but speaking afterwards, the Lilywhites boss said he was more than pleased with his team’s display.

“It was a very good performance. We played really, really well and we created so many chances. We were wasteful at times but the goals we got were excellent,” he remarked.

“We had to make a lot of changes. Patrick McEleney failed a late fitness test before the game and before tonight Tommy Stewart hadn’t started a game since probably last September in America. He didn’t play at all in pre-season so to come in and do so well was terrific.”

Dundalk raced into a two-goal lead after 26 minutes. The opener came from the head of David McMillan, who rose brilliantly to guide home a pinpoint cross from Dane Massey.

“David stayed behind after training on Thursday,” revealed Kenny. “We were doing some crossing and finishing and none of his headers were going in.

“He stayed behind afterwards to really work on them and he got the benefits tonight. It was a great finish.”

Michael Duffy added a second but Pete Mahon’s side reduced the arrears before the break through former Dundalk striker, Marc Griffin.

“At 2–0 we were playing really well but we became somewhat complacent and started playing some risky passes along the back four,” said Kenny.

“I encourage players to play from the back but it was very risky and we got punished. When Marc Griffin scored I knew we were in a game and that proved to be the case. Otherwise, we might have won more convincingly.”

Brian Gartland secured the win for Dundalk with 17 minutes to go, the goal coming just seconds after Drogheda United were reduced to 10 men when Ciaran McGuigan was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

“Drogheda are a good side,” said Kenny. “They have a very good attitude and are very united. They worked hard and caused us a few problems so we were just glad to get the third goal. It gave us that little bit of breathing space.”

The win, however, came at a cost for Dundalk with Sean Gannon set to join Robbie Benson on the treatment table for an extended period after damaging ligaments in his knee.

“We’ve had a disastrous season with injuries,” said Kenny. “Sean picked up a grade two medial knee ligament injury and he’s looking at being out for six to eight weeks.

“It’s just been one of those periods that’s not been synonymous with Dundalk. We’ve always had a reasonably good injury record and good fortune. It’s gone against us at the moment but we just have to hang in there and get the results we can.”

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