Keith Long: ‘We didn't come to Tallaght and sit back. We didn't just want to survive. We wanted to thrive and get after the game’

Keith Long

Keith Long Credit: Liam Coughlan (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from Tallaght Stadium

While Waterford had never won a game against Shamrock Rovers’ first team in Tallaght, it is a happy hunting ground for Keith Long.

The Blues boss won the promotion play-off with Waterford in the Dublin 24 venue last season and Long had a good record in the stadium when he was Bohs manager including winning four league matches in a row away to the Hoops.

The Blues came to Tallaght with a back five formation but took the game to the Hoops when the opportunity arose. While they only had 35% of the ball, they were ruthless with the goals they scored.

Helped by an own goal, they followed that up with cracking goals from Dean McMenamy and Connor Parsons to earn Waterford’s first away win over Rovers in the Premier Division since 2005.

“I thought we deserved to win on the balance of the game,” said Long after Monday’s match. “Rovers ask questions of you - they have won the league for the last four years and you don't come to Tallaght and not have to ride your luck at times.

"We carried a real threat. Some of the goals we scored were exceptional and we were full value for the win.

“We didn't come to Tallaght and sit back. We carried a real and potent attacking threat led by a veteran up front in 36-year-old Padraig Amond. To put in the shift that he does is a real example for everyone.

"He gives us a focal point in the team. We took our chances really well. When you have pace in your team, it doesn't matter who you play it gives opposition defenders something to think about.”

Back-to-back wins on Bank Holiday

The Bank Holiday fixtures away to both Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers saw the Blues win both games – at Easter they lost to the same opposition at home. It was put to Long that perhaps the win in Tallaght was the best performance for a Keith Long Blues team.

“You could point to that because of the venue where we are playing and who we are playing against. With their missing players I think we caught Rovers on a good day but I don't want to underestimate what our boys have done.

"They came here and didn't just want to survive. They wanted to thrive and get after the game and put in a real team performance and they did that. They showed the quality that we have in the team and maybe we can go on a little run now. 

“We won't be getting too carried away with ourselves. Back to back wins are important in this league but when you look at some of the other results today it was important that we did pick up those wins as the league can get away from you quite quickly. 

"Last bank holiday weekend we should have got two points from those games. We got zero out of it.”

Dean McMenamy scored the Blues second goal on his return to his former club. He played one first team league game for the Hoops but made 13 appearances in the First Division in 2020 when Rovers had a team playing in the second tier.

“Dean McMenamy coming into the team today again grabs his chance and works so hard having not got a huge amount of minutes before Sligo on Friday. He comes into the team and the boys are working extremely hard. That is what you want, you want that depth of squad, you want that competition around the squad.

"That is a healthy environment when you've got everyone chomping at the bit. He's had to work extremely hard and has had to be patient. He's shown an exceptional attitude and typified the squad at the moment. 

"Dean never felt sorry for himself. He's hungry, he wants to prove that he's a good player. He's an ex-Shamrock Rovers player and coming back to Tallaght would have meant a lot to him. It would have meant a lot to his family. For him to score had him on cloud nine. It's a reward for his hard work." asked Long how satisfying was it to see his team implement his game plan so effectively and to be rewarded with the win. 

“We give them as much information as we can. We spent a long time over the weekend looking at some bits and pieces. The players went out on the pitch and they believed and trusted themselves, working extremely hard for each other.

"I think coming to Tallaght, when was the last time Rovers lost there (16 games ago), a long time. It's not easy. Rovers are proven winners. They've won the league for the last four years. This game can't be in isolation. We've got to follow it up. We have to make sure that we go on a consistent run.

"As difficult and all as that may be in this league when teams are taking points off each other. So it's absolutely crucial for us to try to capitalise on the feel good factor and confidence of going to Tallaght and performing and the players backing themselves, trusting themselves.

"Listen, we can't get carried away, we've won back-to-back games. We went to Tallaght and won and we’re delighted with that as nobody would have expected it. Hopefully, as a group we can grow stronger as a result of Monday."