Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth feels the pressure is off his side now that the title is in the bag and an FAI Cup date with Shamrock Rovers at the Aviva Stadium next month to look forward to.
While the Lilywhites have a chance to become only the second side to clinch the modern domestic double, following in the footsteps of Jim McLaughlin’s Derry City side 30 years ago, Perth feels the club have achieved their aims already this season and everything else from here on in is a bonus.
“For us, I think the pressure is off,” he said after the victory over Sligo Rovers on Sunday.
“We can now go and enjoy the next few weeks. We’ve two competitions which we can have a crack off but I think we’ve ultimately achieved our main goal this year which was to win the league.
“We’ve achieved that so everything else now at this stage is a bonus.
“Whatever happens in the Aviva, we’ve had a brilliant season. It has been an amazing season no matter what happens, particularly after everything that happened at the club. We’ve had an amazing season so it’s a bonus match for us and we’ll treat it that way.”
While the 43-year-old is now one game away from matching McLaughlin’s treble success, he feels he has a long way to go to be spoken about in the same way as the former Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City boss.
“I’d be alongside him for one achievement of the treble but I’ve a long way to go before my name can be used in the same sentence as the great Jim McLaughlin or Stephen Kenny for that matter.
“I’ve got to do it over a long, long period and I’m nowhere near that now. I don’t see it that way other than it would be an amazing moment for me personally to have achieved something the same and as good and great as Jim did but I’m nowhere near that yet.”
Perth admitted his side weren’t at their best in The Showgrounds but felt they deserved the win.
“It certainly wasn’t our best performance but in no way, shape or form was it a bad performance. It was a different type of performance.
“We had to dig in and be strong and bide our time and I think to be fair to the players they done that. The two centre halves in particular defended really brilliantly and they were the match winners tonight effectively for me, along with Chris Shields as well. It was a proper performance. Their keeper didn’t make loads of saves but Gary Rogers hasn’t had to make a save of note either.”
He also lavished praise on match winner Michael Duffy.
“He has been brilliant,” said Vinny.
“We’re heading into his 43rd or 44th match of the season so to be able to keep going and keep doing it is a credit to him and a credit to our strength and condition and medical staff who really keep the lads going.”
Perth said his side would get nothing easy against Shamrock Rovers in the final.
“It’s two proper teams and two of the best teams going at each other in an amazing stadium in front of what will hopefully be a really big crowd so it’s brilliant.
“I think it’s what we want and hopefully both teams can put on a show and make it a great final and a safe final as well. I think it’s important that someone says that, I hope it’s a safe final.”
Before all that Dundalk have four league games to play, starting with this Friday’s visit of Derry City to Oriel Park (kick-off 7.45pm) followed by trips to Bohemians and Cork City followed by the trophy presentation night at home to St Patrick’s Athletic on October 25th.
Perth said he would weigh up how to approach those games this week.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said when asked about his plans for the four remaining league games.
“We’ve a bit of work to do. We’re very strategic and we do plan everything out. We do have a lot of detailed meetings and I annoy the life out of the staff in that way. I’ll probably ask them all about 150,000 questions between now and Tuesday and then we’ll make our decisions then on what way to plan it.
“You’ve got to be fair to players too. Whoever is in form will get the 11 jerseys. This club is also very conscious of the fact that we’ve got to be good to the league. We’ve got Derry, Bohs and Pat’s who are all going for Europe so we’ve got to be honest to the league and do our very best to win them games,” he said.