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Donning Black & White: Part Two

Stephen McDonnell has penned the second instalment of his blog ‘Donning Black & White’, which is in association with EA SPORTS™. In it, Sam reviews the scoreless draw in Monaghan, asks for supporters’ patience, looks ahead to Saint Patrick’s Athletic, and talks about how things are ‘coming together’ on and off-the-pitch.

I thought we should have won in Monaghan, and probably should have had the points wrapped up by half-time.

We pinned them in fairly well in the first half. After the break, we came out and continued where we left off but they had a 10-15 minute spell where they put us under a lot of pressure and had a couple of clear-cut chances. But we should have taken our own chances.

Genuinely, I thought my shot was on the rise but it came down at the last minute. It was a shame. If it had to be two inches closer to the post I think it would have crept just under the bar.

I have a target in my own head for goals this season. I have only the one for the club so far, so I’m hoping to bag a few this year.

In the end, I think we were happy with the point in Monaghan. It’s not a bad result, considering we have lost over there with quality squads in the last two years.

We probably shaded the possession in the final third, but they missed chances towards the end.

To go over there and get a point and get off the mark in the league, you have to look at it as a positive.

It’s another clean-sheet too.

I don’t think any players like playing there, because the pitch is absolutely horrendous! The ball bobbles up around your kneecap every time you take a touch.

I think every team is going to find it difficult there; especially the teams that want to play football. It’s a pitch where you kind of have to go back to front. That’s the way the tactics have to be.

To be fair, we tried to play but the pitch didn’t hold up too well.

We have to take it on now and build on it against Saint Patrick’s Athletic this weekend.

We’re solid at the back and I’m confident it will come together up front.

There are still one or two players to come back, and Seán is still trying to find his starting XI, so it’s going to take time – that’s the only thing I can say to the fans.

People have to be patient. They can’t expect us to win the league, which many people around this town will!

McDonnell will be back in United Park for another Louth Derby next week, but it is home form that he is hoping will shape Dundalk’s season

It might be a slow start but be patient. As long as we keep clean-sheets and put ourselves about, we can beat any team in the division.

We’re playing with three in midfield, but as Seán says, we’re all playing as individuals at the moment. We’re not playing with a togetherness, so we just need to get that about us.

Once we get it right in the middle of the park and try to play the advanced midfielder, I think it will come together up front.

As people have seen, Michael Rafter is a good lad. He’s strong and holds the ball up well. He’s very sharp on the turn and he can bring other people into the game.

I think once we get that right we’ll be flying.

Our home form is very important. We’ll be looking to get an unbeaten run going and take it from there.

There are a lot of teams coming to Oriel Park twice that we know we’ll be able to take points off.

If we can do that and the fans get behind us, hopefully we can do well at home and then if we can get anything on the road – where we’re playing a lot of the top teams twice – then we’ll have a good season.

Looking ahead to Friday night, St. Pat’s have a very impressive squad but that doesn’t always guarantee results or trophies.

Last year, we had a lot of big names in the squad and, apart from the Setanta Sports Cup, we never turned up at all.

It’s about on the day. St. Pat’s might be coming down here thinking they are going to steamroll us, but they might get a shock.

We haven’t beaten them here in a long, long time and we have to look at that and use it as an extra incentive, not that we need one.

It’s up to us to get motivated for the game and go out and give 100 percent, and look to start off our home fixtures with a win.

Please God, we can get it.

Since the last time I spoke, the bond in the group has really strengthened. It is coming together nicely.

Two weeks on, it’s progressing, both on and off-the-pitch. It’s just the small little things that need to be ironed out now. I think we’ll be in good shape in another four or five weeks.

I’ll be back in a fortnight for more chat. If you have any questions send them through the details below.

C’mon De Town,

We are now taking questions for both Stephen and John Mountney, who will share blog duties each week throughout the season. If you want to ask the lads a question or send them a message, e-mail and they will answer it in their next blog!

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