Dundalk boss Filippo Giovagnoli blamed tiredness and injuries for his side’s below-par display against Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park on Monday night.
The Lilywhites were second best through as goals from Jesse Devers and Ronan Coughlan inflicted a third league defeat on the Italian manager in what was his ninth league match in charge.
While disappointed with the display, Giovagnoli said the toll of travelling for Europe and competing in the league had caught up with his side. He insisted they lacked a “ferociousness” as a result.
He said: “We are tired. The group is tired. The group is fatigued.
“We have many players with injuries and the injuries are coming from the fatigue because there are many inflammations from the groin to the knees but we should expect that.
“I try to protect the players the most I can with fair rotations but also I can rotate because I have good players in the roster so it is not a big deal to rotate but it wasn’t enough to just protect them because we had a lot of travel, a lot of stress and a lot of pressure.
“Maybe I transferred this idea of paying attention in Europe more to the players. I didn’t do this on purpose but the environment was this.”
While Dundalk have been criticised by their own fans for displays in recent weeks, Giovagnoli put the blame for the poor domestic displays down to the fact that a bigger focus was put on the Europa League.
“At the end of the day we got the objectives. We did something before that was enough to get the third position so let’s be positive and let’s make this final of the season successful in some way for the players.
“Our performances in the league were up and down and up and down and when I say up and down I’m thinking there was no ferocity against Waterford after Molde.
“We were coming into it after a really tough week where we had Derry on Monday, Molde on Thursday and then playing again in Waterford. We arrived there not really on top.
“Then after Arsenal we had St Patrick’s and we arrived not really on top and today too. We had a great performance in Austria but then in the league we didn’t perform.
“We had a few good performances when we had time to prepare. When the team was really focused on the league we had good performances. They can do that because we have good players and a good team but now we need to rest.”
After the league season came to an end, Dundalk now have a 12 day period to prepare for the FAI Cup quarter-final tie away to Bohemians on November 20th and Giovagnoli welcomed this break in the relentless run of fixtures of late.
“We will need to recollect the energy, recollect our toughness and recollect everything.
“We may have some players back from injury and we need that because even the players tonight, if I count our internal situation in terms of injuries, I have in shape and ready to play without risking anything maybe nine or 10 players.
“I had two players starting and it was a big risk to start them. Two players were also on the bench without practicing because they couldn’t practice during the week because of injuries but that is the situation. It is what it is but now we have to recollect our energy and go back to what we did good during this month.”
Giovagnoli had no immediate assessment on the ankle injury sustained by top scorer Patrick Hoban, who left the ground on crutches, but said injuries such as this were why he had been rotating players.
“I think something happened with his ankle but this is what happens,” he said when asked about the striker.
“Sometimes these kind of injuries are coming from the amount of games that you play. Yeah, it’s an ankle but maybe it happened because you’re tired or because mechanically or cognitively you don’t do the right then and then you are exposed to injury. This is what I was talking about before when I was rotating.
“It is really complicated. We have data and GPS here and we are monitoring everything, the status of the players even medically and sometimes their numbers are scary. That’s why at a high level you have to check everything and use this kind of instrument but listen explaining everything is a little bit complicated.
“Internally we know everything that is going on but now, thank God, we have this 10 or 12 days and we have to recollect the energy and prepare for a game that is going to be really complicated against Bohemians away. If we recollect our energy then we can train properly etc and then I feel positive with the team that we can compete.”