O'Donnell praises 10-man Dundalk despite frustrating draw at UCD

Sat, May 07 2022

Seán O'Connor reports from the UCD Bowl

Dundalk dropped to fourth in the Premier Division last night following a frustrating 2-2 draw at the UCD Bowl.

The Lilywhites dominated the opening 45 minutes, with Paul Doyle’s 18th minute strike putting them ahead in the capital. They ended the half with ten men however, after Andy Boyle was given a straight red for a challenge on Jack Keaney on the stroke of half-time.

Despite being a man down, Dundalk found a second from the penalty spot ten minutes after the restart. Pat Hoban netted his sixth of the season after Daniel Kelly was fouled by Eric Yoro.

Dundalk were 30 minutes away from their first away win of the season, but two strikes from Colm Whelan rescued a point for the Students, rounding off a determined performance. The Republic of Ireland Under-21 forward pulled one back with a top-drawer finish on the hour mark, before levelling from the spot with fifteen minutes remaining.

Speaking to extratime.com after the draw, Dundalk manager Stephen O’Donnell praised the impact of Hoban and Kelly, who were instrumental in Dundalk’s second goal.

“I thought they both done really well,” said O’Donnell.

“They were brilliant for the penalty. It was really good play, interchanging between them and the give and goes. I’m delighted with them.”

After Sam Bone and Darragh Leahy went close nicking to a late winner, O’Donnell stressed that he thought his side finished the game stronger.

“We needed fresh legs obviously going into the last twenty. They put in an unbelievable shift both of them. I thought the substitutes gave us a bit of impetus and I thought we finished the game stronger after it went 2-2.”

While the wait goes on for a first away win of the season for the Lilywhites, but O’Donnell admired his side’s attitude on Friday night.

“I thought our attitude was very good”, he added.

“It’s obviously disappointing going 2-0 ahead. We’re disappointed but I thought we finished the game the stronger. It’s never easy playing 50 minutes with ten men.”

“The only aspect I probably am disappointed with is that we let them back into the game too soon and gave them a lifeline.”

Boyle’s first half dismissal was Dundalk’s third red card in four games. However, the Dundalk boss was surprised at the decision.

“It’s inside their half, Andy Boyle is not a dirty player,” said O’Donnell.

“I thought he’s gone to win the ball with the tackle. I was surprised to see the referee bring out the red card. That gives the impetus going in at half-time.”

UCD found their equaliser from the penalty spot after Robbie Benson fouled Michael Gallagher inside the area. Like the red card, O’Donnell disagreed with Damien MacGraith’s decision.

“I watched the corner back, Robbie looses his footing and both of them fall over. It’s not affecting the flight of the ball, the balls going over their head. He gives a penalty which I couldn’t believe, I thought he was giving a free out.”

Dundalk host Bohemians next Friday and will be looking to extend their unbeaten run at Oriel Park this season. The sides last met in February in a 2-2 draw at Dalymount Park, and O’Donnell expects another tough clash against Keith Long’s side.

They went up to Derry and have drawn,” said O’Donnell.

“Bohemians have lots of good individuals and lots of attacking threat, so we’ll get recovered over the weekend and we look forward to the game next Friday.

Dundalk also face a trip to leaders Derry City on Friday week. It was put to O’Donnell that a game at the Brandywell is not easy.

“We’re not an easy side to play against either,” O’Donnell said.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please consider becoming a patron of extratime.com for just €4 a month to help us cover running costs.