Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth expects to be without five first-team players for Friday’s trip to Dalymount Park to face Bohemians (kick-off 7.45pm).

The Lilywhites can go top on goal difference with a win over the Gypsies but that task has been made more difficult by the fact they will be without the suspended Patrick Hoban and Sean Hoare and the injured trio of Robbie Benson, Sean Murray and Jamie McGrath for the clash with Keith Long’s side. The latter damaged his metatarsal in the 3-0 win away to Waterford FC last Monday and while the full extent of his injury is not yet known the sight of him in a protective boot and on crutches at Friday’s 2-2 draw with Derry City means he is unlikely to play again this month.

The injury to McGrath is just the latest setback that Perth has faced on the injury front since taking over from Stephen Kenny but he is confidence Dundalk can cope.

“We’ve a good squad and we’re in a good position in terms of the fact we’ve Brian Gartland to come in. We’ve probably rotated the centre halves a little bit to keep them fresh with a suspension in mind. I thought it might have come a bit earlier but Brian is fresh and raring to go so we’re in a good position in that sense. Georgie Kelly has been flying and we’ve been holding him back because of Pat’s form so I think he’s ready to go.

 “You can be a good coach but if you get bad luck you’re going to be punished. We don’t know the extent of Jamie’s injury just yet. It’s a damaged metatarsal. He’s gone for the next couple of weeks and then we’ll reassess it in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s the same bone as Patrick McEleney’s but it’s a slightly different injury and doesn’t require surgery but it’s a blow for him personally.

“I think he has been outstanding since he got back into the team after his injury over pre-season. It’s tough to take but what can you do? You’ve just got to take it on the chin.”

Perth said the player he expects back in action next is Sean Murray but said it is likely to be for the trip to Cork on Friday week.

“Robbie Benson is still four or five weeks away. He’ll be back just after the break hopefully. Sean Murray is probably a couple of weeks away. He’s maybe touch and go for the Cork game.”

Perth has been impressed by the performances of Bohemians so far this season and said despite talk of a small budget, they had a squad as capable of challenging for the title as anyone.
“Bohs have a big squad. You hear about their budget and different things but they’ve got a big, big squad. They’ve access to probably the best schoolboys’ club in Dublin, St Kevin’s, and they’re able to make seven and eight changes and still be very, very strong. 

“They’re a good side. It’s good for us to have a big game to play in. That will help the mentality of the players. The big pitch might suit us too.”

The 42-year-old said he was most thankful for the fact that Dundalk would only be playing a game a week for the foreseeable future. While he felt his side left two points behind against Derry City on Friday, he said he was happy overall with where the side were right now.

“We’ve 16 points out of 18, which leaves us on the same number of points as we had this time last year. The players are disappointed because they want to beat the amount of points they got last year and that’s a real goal for them but we’ve left four points behind against Sligo and Derry here at home. Both of those games we did enough to win but we just didn’t get the rub of the green at the right moments and we’ve been punished so we have to accept it.

“It’s massive for us having a game a week now. There are no excuses. Tonight’s game wasn’t good in the first half but it’s because there’s too many bloody games of football and we need to fix that as a league. Some of the games over the last period haven’t been good because there’s too much football being played and teams aren’t being coached. They’re just getting recovered and being put back out onto the pitch. We did enough tonight to win and we felt fresher than them but we just let ourselves down with 15 minutes of madness and we need to learn from it.”

Perth said he felt particularly aggrieved by the penalty that saw Eoghan Stokes equalise after Pat Hoban had been sent off.

“It’s a disappointing result. I think we did enough to win the game. We were 2-0 up. The first half was a poor game of football. You could see both teams were physically and mentally tired. There was a lot of games in a short period of time for both teams but I think we got them in at half-time, fixed a few things, asked them to improve their intensity and move the ball wider and we did that but we just switched off at 2-0 up at the edge of our box and got punished. Then the penalty is one of those bizarre decisions. If you’re going to give it then you’re going to give three or four in a game so we feel a little bit hard done by but we have only ourselves to blame for not getting the third goal.

“I think Pat can feel a little bit hard done by tonight. He got two great goals but for the penalty, if he’s going to give that decision then that would suffice and we’d move on but he felt he had to give him a second yellow and a red card which is poor. We don’t get a lot of red cards at this club so we’re very disappointed.

“It doesn’t make any logic. I asked him about it and he said it’s a tug and he has to give a second yellow but it just makes no sense to me. I’m bamboozled by it,” said Perth.

As published in The Argus May 7th 2019