Burns Demands Killer Instinct
Liam Burns wants Dundalk to discover a killer instinct to rival the league’s top teams. The Lilywhites easily brushed aside Drogheda United in last week’s Louth Derby at Oriel Park but gave away a penalty and a goal in the final five minutes, something which the experienced defender was less than pleased about. “We know if we want to go higher in this league and beat the better teams that we’ll have to cut out our sloppiness that led to their second goal and maybe the penalty,” Burns told dundalkfc.com.
“If you had said before the game that we would win 4-2, I would have snapped your hand off, but I think when we were 4-1 up we took our foot off the pedal a bit. I think if you look at the other teams in this league, like Bohs, Derry and Cork, when they’re three goals up, they keep doing what got them the three goals, and we have got to get into our heads that we’ve got to do the same no matter who we’re playing against. It only takes one goal to get teams back in a game and it gives them confidence, but hopefully we have learned from last week and we can kick on now.”
That was Dundalk’s fifth win in six league games and they will be aiming to extend that impressive run this Sunday night when they travel to face Saint Patrick’s Athletic, who have a 100 percent record against Sean Connor’s men this term. Indeed, Dundalk have yet to take a point from any Dublin club in any competition this year, losing all eight games and conceding 18 goals in the process, scoring just once. “We know it’s going to be a tough game,” Burn admitted. “They’ve beaten us twice this year, so we want to go down there, put on a show and hopefully get the win.”
The Lilywhites have improved drastically in recent weeks and have put together their best run of form in the Premier Division since 1995. However, it’s a turnaround in fortunes that Burns saw coming. “I think if you look at the game that started our run, it was against Bray,” he recalled. “If you look at the three games before that – Sligo and St. Pat’s at home and Shamrock Rovers away – we deserved something from all three games. Then we got a good win against Bray, but out of the four games I thought Bray was our worst performance. We’re on a good run at the minute but we know that there’s a lot of hard work in front of us.”
Burns is unconcerned by other events in the league, insisting they must focus on their own form. “It doesn’t matter what any other team do,” he said. “We have just got to concentrate on ourselves and keep plugging away and getting results, and hopefully getting wins. We have just got to look after ourselves, it doesn’t matter what other teams are doing, it’s up to us what we do, and then we’ll see where we are at the end of the season.” Despite their proximity to the top four, though, Burns feels that his side cannot drop their guard in the fight against relegation. “This league is very unpredictable and anyone can beat anyone this year,” he said. “If you’re not on your game on the day, as I said, anyone can beat each other. We want to look forward but we know that a few bad results will get us dragged back into it.”
The arrival of six new players – Mickey Collins, Alex Williams, Michael McGowan, Michael McKinlay, Peter Cherrie and Paul McAreavey – has contributed a large part to Dundalk’s upward turn, and Burns can see a notable difference in the squad. “They’ve all played at a decent standard and Joe (Miller) knew what he was getting,” he said. “They’ve brought a bit of quality, not only to the games but to training as well. I think a few of the other boys have upped their training levels and game performances too.
“There’s plenty of competition in the squad now and that’s what it’s all about,” the 30-year-old added, before insisting that the mood never dropped in the camp even when the team were going through a difficult period. “It’s very good,” he said. “It has always been good. We have got a good bunch of lads here, and even when we get beaten, we’re still confident. We know that one defeat could drag us down there again, so we want to keep our run going.”
Dundalk will have little rest after their visit to Dublin as they welcome Club Atlético de Madrid to Oriel Park on Monday evening. However, Burns says that that game does not come as a distraction to the squad. “I forgot we were playing them,” he said. “Them games are great for the crowd and for players to get games, but, at the end of the day, we want to do well in the league games, and St. Pat’s is more important than Atlético Madrid.”