By his own admission, the first leg against Riga was a night of frustration for Pat Hoban.
The Dundalk striker is hopeful he can have the last laugh on the Latvians though by finally breaking their resistance in this Wednesday’s second leg at Skonto Stadium.
The 27-year-old will start the 250th game of his career on the night and while he found chances limited first time out against Mihail Konevs’ side, he is confident Vinny Perth’s side won’t be shut out for a second time away from home.
“I fully believe that we can definitely score against them,” he said.
A lot of our chances were from dead balls tonight and from a few crosses but I do believe with the quality we have in our side that we can score goals over there and we’ll definitely be going over there to attack.
“They came here with a game plan to sit in and slow down the game as much as they could. I actually saw their manager at one stage saying slow it down. They came here for the draw and that’s what they got but over there they’ll have to come out a bit more and play against us and that could be to our advantage too.
“All it takes is for us to get one goal and then they have to get two. I’m a firm believer that we can score in any game so we’ll be going there with a mentality to go and win.”
The Galway native said his side will have learned a lot from the first leg.
“They were totally different from what we watched on video. They hadn’t sat in in one game that we watched but tonight they did. We knew they played at a slow tempo but they came here to do and job and they done their job. It was a frustrating night on our behalf because we were trying to score but it’s all to play for next Wednesday.
“We could probably move the ball a bit quicker. We didn’t move it quick enough I think but I thought we did well at times just that the final ball wasn’t the best. That’s what we can improve on for next week but the quality is there, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Dundalk striker Pat Hoban has revealed that the club have stopped negotiating with him over a new contract.
The club’s all-time leading league goalscorer is one of several high-profile players out of contract at Oriel Park at the end of the year, including club captain Brian Gartland, goalkeeper Gary Rogers, last season’s PFAI Young Player of the Year Jamie McGrath and full back Dean Jarvis.
After midfielder Chris Shields penned a new deal with the Lilywhites in April, it emerged that talks with Hoban had stalled.
Now the league’s top goalscorer has revealed that he currently has no contract offer from Dundalk.
“There’s no contract offer to be honest,” he said after last night’s 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium.
“My agent stopped talking to Dundalk a long time ago. You’ll need to ask the person at Dundalk who looks after the contracts what’s happening. I’m just concentrated on playing football and winning games.”
Pressed on the matter, the 27-year-old said money was not the issue. In a week where Andy Boyle returned to the club on a three-and-a-half year deal, Hoban says he wants a long-term contract for security and hinted the ongoing stalemate over negotiating it may be impacting his form.
“It’s not money. It’s security,” he said.
“I want a long term contract and for some reason, I don’t know what’s going on, I’m just not getting it which is unfortunate for everything I’ve achieved at the club and everything that we’ve achieved as people in Dundalk.
“It’s just unfortunate but like I said I just have to concentrate on playing football and keep putting in good performances but it’s not ideal to be honest.”
When asked would he like to be at Dundalk next season, Hoban replied: “100%, definitely.”
On a more positive note, the Loughrea man was delighted to see his side move eight points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table courtesy of Sean Gannon’s winner last night.
“It wasn’t a good performance overall and even from myself it wasn’t a good performance but it’s one of those where you just take the win and get out of here.
“They did have one off the line and the shot from Jack Byrne that hit the crossbar but other than that they didn’t really hurt us. They played decent football, which we knew they were going to do, but it was just a bad game overall. We’ll take the three points and move on.
“It’s just a game to forget for us but it puts us eight points clear in the league and you have to take that.”
Hoban said it was now important to build on the result with Waterford FC visiting Oriel Park on Monday followed by a tricky away trip to face Derry City in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Friday before the squad can focus on the Champions League meeting with Riga FC.
“You can’t even think of Europe now because we’ve two massive games. We’ve to follow up this win now on Monday. Monday’s game is the most important game now and we have to make sure we back up this great win.
“There was a big sign in the fans tonight and they honestly did think the league was over. I was hearing on all sorts of podcasts that the league was over and Rovers had won the league. I was flabbergasted, I couldn’t believe it. It just shows when you keep the head down and keep working hard, we know how to win leagues.
“Now we’re eight points clear but we have to make sure we keep driving on.”
Hoban also welcomed the return of Andy Boyle to the club.
“Andy is a great player. I played with him in 2013 and 2014 and when I left he got even better and that’s what got him his cap for Ireland and going to Preston. He earned that. Now he’s back and you’ve to grab him with both arms because he’s a quality player and he’s going to fit in very well,” said Hoban.
Dundalk striker Pat Hoban has admitted he is frustrated with his goal return so far this season but is hopeful of taking that anger out on Finn Harps’ defence on Saturday night.
The 27-year-old’s penalty against Sligo Rovers on Friday was his 11th league goal of the season. That’s enough to see him lead the SSE Airtricity League goalscoring charts by four from Bohs’ Dinny Corcoran and Waterford’s Aaron Drinan.
It’s also the same return he had after 19 matches of last season. Yet the fact that seven of his goals have come from the penalty spot is bugging the Loughrea native.
He admits that has led to doubts creeping in at times but told The Argus after Friday night’s win that he is happy with where his game is overall.
Reacting to what was the 50th goal of his career at Oriel Park, Hoban said: “It’s another mini-landmark.
“I’m still a small bit frustrated that I’m not getting the chances I used to get in terms of goals from play but the penalties have to be put away too. We’ve been getting a lot of penalties this year but they’ve been crucial penalties too. I’m just happy to have scored again tonight.”
When it was put to him that his goal return was the same as this time last year when he went on to hit a Premier Division record 29 league goals, Hoban said: “It’s frustrating because I feel like I’ve had less goals and I’m getting a small bit frustrated but I’m working on not allowing that get to me.
“I want to stay positive within myself. Sometimes that’s difficult because I know there are chances in this team all the time.
“When I don’t score from play I feel like I’m doing something wrong but then when I look back on it I realise I’m actually playing well. At the end of the day, three points is the main thing and we’re top of the league and in a great place.”
Hoban, who captained the side on the night, felt Dundalk were full value for their win over Sligo.
“It was a tough game but I thought we were in full control. We knew where they were going to try and hurt us and that was on the counter but I felt we were in full control.
“We started for a change really, really well and that was the objective. We wanted to start with a higher intensity than we had against Pat’s and I thought we did that extremely well. They had a few half chances but I felt we were in full control and we probably should have had more. We need to be more clinical in my opinion in the final third but 4-0 is 4-0.”
Hoban unselfishly passed up the chance to add to his goal tally when he gave the ball over to John Mountney from the second spot kick to complete his hat-trick. However, he revealed he almost forgot that the Mayo man was on a treble.
“When I had the ball, I forgot he was going for a hat-trick and when he came up to me I was like ‘what are you doing?’ but he explained to me it was his first ever hat-trick so I just said ‘here you go’.
“I was delighted for him that he got it. It was a good penalty and I’m just happy it went in for him.”
Hoban said Friday’s victory was important given Dundalk’s struggles against Liam Buckley’s side so far this season.
“We owed them one tonight because they’ve taken four points off us. No disrespect to Sligo but if you’re going to win the league you’re going to have to get more points off them. Tonight just showed that if we get an early goal against a team who plan to sit in against us that we will punish them over the course of the 90 minutes.”
Now the striker hopes to keep the recent good run of form going away to Finn Harps on Saturday.
“It’s never easy up there. They make it very difficult for you and last time they brought in the pitch five yards each side to try and stop our strengths but you have to deal with that and get on with it.
“It’s going to be a tough night up there but other teams have got points up there so we’ll be looking to do the same on Saturday,” he said.
Patrick Hoban’s opener against Shamrock Rovers on Friday night was his 70th league goal for the club, surpassing the previous record of 69 which had been held by Joey Donnelly since he scored his final league goal for the club against Cork Utd in February 1943.
Donnelly, who hailed from Pearse Park, had held the record since overtaking Eddie Carroll’s previous record of 47 goals when he scored a brace against Bohemians at Oriel Park in February 1939.
Amazingly, Hoban’s record breaking strike came six years to the day since he scored his first league goal for the club in a 2-0 win over Cork City at Oriel Park on April 26th 2013.
Hoban’s goal against Shamrock Rovers on Friday night was his seventh goal of the season, the same return he had after 13 matches of last season. It was also the seventh goal of his career against Shamrock Rovers and the seventh of his 36 league goals which Michael Duffy has assisted during his second spell with the club.
It was also the 17th time he has opened the scoring in a game since returning to the club before the start of last season.
Hoban had made his 100th league start for Dundalk against UCD on Easter Monday, scoring his 10th goal in seven matches against the Students from the spot.