KENNY Shiels has urged his players to put Sunday’s demoralising FAI Cup loss to the back of their minds and concentrate on getting their season back on track as they prepare to re-engage in battle against Dundalk at Maginn Park this weekend.
The Derry City boss conceded Dundalk were ‘worthy winners’ at Oriel Park as Stephen Kenny’s men ran riot after stunning the visitors with John Mountney’s first goal in less than 60 seconds, before some of the attendance had time to take their seats.
Dundalk came out with the bit between their teeth and dominated the scoring chances but Aaron McEneff came so close to an equaliser when he clipped the crossbar with a superb strike from 25 yards.
Derry did so well to go in at the break just a single goal behind but the hosts doubled the lead from the penalty spot five minutes after the restart through David McMillan who had been fouled by Dean Jarvis.
And Mountney added his second of the tie with a stunning strike from distance before ex-Derry City winger, Michael Duffy made it 4-0 in the final minute.
So Derry’s FAI Cup campaign ended at the first hurdle but it’s just a pity this game came so early in the competition. It was the worst possible draw for both sides but it was clear that Dundalk are intent on making up for last season’s FAI Cup Final heartbreak at the Aviva Stadium.
You can’t make excuses and the best team won on the night. We’re not going to go looking for negative responses and keep the positivity for next week.Kenny Shiels
City, however, get an early chance of revenge when they welcome Dundalk to Buncrana next Sunday in the league and Shiels is hoping he can lift the mood after a hugely disappointing evening in Co. Louth.
“We conceded early and that set the marker for the game,” said Shiels afterwards. “We’re disappointed but we have a full week until the next game and we must do the proper preparation. It’s vitally important we get our chins up again.
“The next game is our most important one and that’s one we need to do our best in and lift the lads this week.
“Hopefully we can get enough from them to get a performance.
“But you can’t make excuses and the best team won on the night. We’re not going to go looking for negative responses and keep the positivity for next week.”
It was the second successive season the Lilywhites have ended Derry’s cup hopes having dumped the Candy Stripes out of the competition after a semi-final replay in 2016, but given no less than FOUR ex-Derry City players starred on Sunday. it will be a particularly hard pill to swallow for City fans.
Duffy, who netted the fourth goal in the final minute was unplayable on the left flank, giving makeshift right-back, Lukas Schubert a torrid time.
Patrick McEleney was in sublime form in the first half, instrumental in almost every Dundalk attack and it was clear early on he was on top of his game for this latest meeting with his former club.
Niclas Vemmelund seemingly has taken his game on to the next level since leaving Foyleside having found home in the centre of the Dundalk defence and he was immense.
And former City attacker, Tommy Stewart even came on to cause nuisance to the visiting defence in the second half and played a superb ball for Duffy’s goal.
Shiels was disappointed with the mistakes which handed Dundalk a 2-0 lead as Ronan Curtis switched off for the first goal allowing Sean Gannon to overlap and set up Mountney for the quickfire opener. And Dean Jarvis blatantly dragged David McMillan back inside the penalty area to gift the home lot a second half penalty.
The Derry boss felt his side were very much in the game up until that point but had no complaints with the outcome.
“We were hamstrung in that we lost both of our right backs (the suspended Conor McDermott and the injured Harry Monaghan) and the chances of that happening were very slim.
“Going into the game without a natural right back had an impact on us defensively. It distorted our balance and shape. I felt that was a restriction on us and didn’t help the performance.”
Shiels felt Derry were beginning to close the gap on Dundalk and with the incentive of reducing the points deficit between second and third to four points with a win on Sunday, the Derry supremo knows his side must be a lot, lot better.
“I want to try and get third spot. We definitely had narrowed the gap to Dundalk in my view.
“Tonight we were more in the game than we were this time last year and the penalty kicked us in the teeth. It looked like it was going to be 2-1 rather than 3-0 and then they got the third goal and that killed it on us.
“I’ve no complaints but the performance needs to be better for next week.”