Shields savours victory over title rivals
Chris Shields was relishing a deserved victory over a title rival on Friday night, after Dundalk defeated champions Cork City to lay down an early marker for the season.
“It’s good to get a win over rivals”, Shields told dundalkfc.com after the game. “We’d like to have won in Tallaght, but we’ve backed that up with a win here tonight. Having not beaten Cork in a few games, it’s good to get that monkey off the back.
“It was a great night all round. The place was rocking and hopefully the fans will go home happy now as well.”
With the new league structure meaning Premier Division sides meet four times this season, Shields knows the importance of getting the upper-hand in these big games.
“These head-to-heads with Cork can be so vital when you come to the title run-in, so it’s good to win the first one… and now we’ll only see them another three times!”
Dundalk dominated proceedings from the off on Friday night and secured a deserved 1-0 victory thanks to Pat Hoban’s fourth-minute goal, which set the Lilywhites on their way.
“It was a great start. It’s always great to get an early goal and I think we nullified their threats then. It became a bit of a dogfight at times with no great football played maybe, but that can be the way these sort of matches go between two title rivals.
“At the end of the day, it was important for us to keep a clean sheet with a fourth one in a row, so that will stand to us.”
Shields knows there is no danger of players resting on their laurels, however, as the squad nears a full return to fitness following a start to the season disrupted by illness and injuries.
“We’ve got huge competition for places with a fully-fit 22. It’s really good for strength in depth, which will come to the fore this season. We’ve so many games this year, so it’s inevitable there will be injuries at times, but there’s quality to come in all over the park.”
Dundalk travel to Inchicore today to face St Patrick’s Athletic, before the visit of second-placed Waterford to Oriel Park on Friday and, with the games coming thick and fast, Shields knows the squad must be at their best to maintain the good start to the season.
“We’ve got two big games this week against two sides that are in form. Pats have probably had their best start to the season in a good while and Waterford look to be wanting to break into that top four. They’ve signed well, are hard to beat and are playing good football as well.
“It will be two difficult games next week and we have to come to the fore, but that’s where you might see some rotation within the squad, which won’t weaken us a lot.
“We’re used to the quick turnarounds. We’ve done it before so it’s just about getting the right recovery. We’ll train on Sunday and go again Monday.”