Cherrie “Holds Hands Up” for Recent Form / McDonnell
Dundalk No1 Peter Cherrie has “held his hands up” for his recent out-of-sorts performances. The Scottish stopper has been criticised this season after failing to rediscover the form that saw him nominated for the SWAI Goalkeeper of the Year award last December. Cherrie admits that he “can’t put his finger” on the reason for his drop in form, pointing to a lack of “confidence”. However, he is hopeful that his display against Sligo Rovers is reward for “extra hard work” on the training ground and that it is a sign of things to come after he produced two fine saves to keep his side level.
Cherrie, whose most notable display of the season came a month ago when he saved Dundalk a point against Bohemians, showed glimpses of a return to his best when he denied both Raffaele Cretaro and Eoin Doyle in the second half. “I hold my hands up for the last couple of weeks because I’ve not been anywhere near where I was last season,” Cherrie told dundalkfc.com afterwards. “But this week I have been working extra hard, doing extra bits myself, and Martin Connolly has been working with me very hard. I thought that I stepped up a wee bit tonight, but I’ve still got a good bit to go.
“Honestly, I can’t put my finger on it,” Pete added when asked if there was anything behind his recent form. “I have just been a bit low on confidence. But I thought I came back a wee bit tonight, so hopefully I can build on that for Monday.” Speaking on his side’s performance against the Bit O’ Red, the 27-year-old Bellshill native said: “I thought we stepped it up a good few notches compared to the last couple of games. Overall, I’ve got to say I’m very happy with the performance. I thought we could have won it. We were unlucky on a couple of occasions, but I’m very happy with the boys’ performance. We could have got the three points but against Sligo – they’re possible contenders for the league – we’ll probably take a draw.”
One player whose performances have earned him a place in the starting lineup in recent games is local central midfielder Stephen McDonnell, who made his fourth straight start and sixth of the season on Friday night. “I’m over the moon with it, to be honest,” Sam told dundalkfc.com when speaking about his recent run in the team. “I’m getting a lot fitter. I feel 100 percent at the moment. It’s obviously good for me, and hopefully it will continue.” Commenting on the side’s display against Sligo, McDonnell said: “I thought it was a great performance considering the defeat to Derry City last week; we bounced back very well. Everybody gave 100 percent commitment and it was an all-round good game.
“The referee didn’t help the game, for both sides maybe,” the former Quay and Glasgow Celtic youngster added. “It was stop-start and a lot of silly little niggly things. A point is better than nothing, obviously, and overall it’s not a bad result against a team like Sligo.” The result continued Dundalk’s fine home form, with the Lilywhites the only team in the Premier Division still unbeaten at home, but they have yet to pick up a point on the road. Briefly, looking ahead to next week’s trip to Drogheda United, the 19-year-old said: “It’s a derby game; that speaks for itself. I would like to think that the dressing room will be up for that one. We’ll go there and try our best to get three points.”
Both players also looked ahead to Monday’s visit of Cliftonville in the second leg of the sides’ Setanta Sports Cup semi-final tie, Cherrie stating: “I can’t wait. It should be a good game. We’re 3-1 up but, at the end of the day, that means little. It’s the semi-final of a cup and they’ll be here to beat us. We have got to be careful, but we want to win the game as well. It would be very nice to make it through to a cup final. It would be great for the boys and would lift our spirits for the rest of the season, hopefully getting a cup.” McDonnell added: “If we go out with the same attitude as against Sligo, I can’t see us conceding. I can only see us going from strength to strength.”
On Monday, Dundalk will again be without long-term injury victims Greg Bolger (thigh strain), Stephen Maher (torn groin muscles) and Eoghan Osborne (broken leg), while Shane Guthrie (blurred vision and concussion) will also miss out. Dean Bennett was subbed in the first half against Sligo having “felt” his hamstring, with the midfielder considered “a doubt”. The Lilywhites go into the game with Ross Gaynor, Keith Ward, Daniel Kearns, Simon Madden and Cherrie all on yellow cards, meaning another caution against Cliftonville would rule them out of the final on Saturday 14 May should the Louth club progress. Bolger and Guthrie, incidentally, would also have carried yellow cards into the game.