Dundalk team manager Shane Keegan took encouragement from his side’s display despite their wait for a first victory of the season continuing at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.
The Laois man said there were “an awful lot of positives” on the night despite the 2-1 defeat and expressed the view that his side’s performance was much better than the one against Finn Harps seven days earlier when the Lilywhites lost out on the same scoreline.
Asked if he felt both goals could have been kept out, Keegan said: “I thought there was a difference between the two of them but obviously I’m only seeing them in real time.
“I’m directly behind Danny (Mandriou) as he hits the ball, as soon as it leaves his boot, I think it’s heading into the top corner, maybe it’s different on TV, and the second one, again, I initially didn’t think there was any questions but it has been said to me we could have done better on the second one but jesus if you’re telling me coming here that we’re going to be limiting them to potshots from distance like that… I’ve had a quick look at the numbers and if you told me that it would be six shots on target to three shots on target in our favour coming here, we’re taking those numbers all day long because you’re expecting to come out on the right side.”
Keegan said there were positives to take from the display, particularly in the second half.
“They did look dangerous on the break too to be fair to them but, yeah, look, losing Garts as early as we did threw us off our stride.
“We started with our game plan in the back three and he was very, very important in that. We’ve eventually gone to change shape and looking back on it, there’s no doubt we should have done that sooner. As soon as we lost Garts we probably should have done that.
“We know that on the sideline and we’ve spoken about it in the dressing room and once we have changed to it, yeah we’ve absolutely bossed it from there for the next half an hour. Three off the woodwork is it? I said last week I thought Mark McGinley made a save that was going to be in one of the top three this season but Mannus has topped it with one of the saves there tonight. He was excellent for them in fairness.
“The only thing this week has in common with last week is that we’re coming away with zero points again. Last week was awful, everything we did last week had to be thrown out, and it was start from scratch, that’s absolutely not the case with this week’s performance. This week’s performance had an awful lot of positives, an awful lot we would try to build on and it genuinely shows we are moving in the right direction.”
When it was pointed out that the conversation over the goalkeeper was the same as last week, Keegan said: “Yeah he’s going to be annoyed at himself if there’s mistakes two weeks in a row but without seeing it back, I don’t know whose blame it was at this moment.”
One of the key decisions of the match was to start 17-year-old Ryan O’Kane for the first time but the local youngster was subsequently withdrawn at half-time for Ole Erik Midtskogen.
On O’Kane, Keegan said: “Maybe we got that one slightly wrong.
“He just made such an impact for us last week and looked so good in training that it was a case of rolling the dice a little bit.
“The change is moreso again down to us deciding that we need to do things slightly differently in the second half. If we made a decision to do things differently in the second half and go a bit more direct then it makes sense to replace a 5ft 5in fella with a 6ft 5in fella.
“Ryan is an absolutely fantastic talent, he’s going to get so many minutes this season and he’ll have a huge impact on this season but Ole showed glimpses of why he’s going to be a useful addition as well,” said Keegan.