After the elation of a stoppage time comeback against Cork City seven nights earlier, frustration was very much the buzzword after Dundalk’s 2-2 draw with Bohemians at Oriel Park on Friday night.
The first half saw the Lilywhites produce one of their best performances of the season with goals from Patrick Hoban and a James Talbot OG putting them firmly in the driving seat at the break.
Bohemians, however, failed to lie down and a late rally which saw Krystian Nowak and Ali Coote score twice inside the final 13 minutes, meant Dundalk had to settle for a point that sees them occupy fifth place ahead of this Friday night’s clash with St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
Like many in the ground, Lilywhites midfielder Paul Doyle, who was introduced as a 73rd-minute substitute, was thrilled with the first-half display but admitted that Dundalk’s failure to see the game out was tough to take.
“We were completely dominant in the first half,” said Doyle. “I think if you look at the stats, we had 10 shots to one. Bohs made a few changes and I think they sort of got into the mode where they had nothing to lose and started chucking balls in at us.
“I thought we actually dealt with it for most of the second half but in the last 15 minutes or so, we probably just lacked a bit of ‘football smarts’, as they say.
“At this level, when teams throw the kitchen sink at you, you have to respond to it and you can’t afford to give away goals like we gave away.
“As a group of players, the penny needs to drop a little bit in that regard because there’s probably been a few too many goals that we’ve conceded of late that have just been out of naivety.
“It’s very frustrating because if you break down the performance, I don’t think Bohs would have had a tougher 45 minutes of football than they had in the first half last Friday night. That’s obviously a big positive from our point of view.
“We know we can do that to teams so it’s just about cutting out those sloppy bits. That maybe that comes from having a young team with young players but we don’t have time to give that up as an excuse.
“You have to learn week to week and the mistakes that we saw on Friday night can’t be seen again, starting at Richmond Park.”
Friday’s appearance against Bohs was just Doyle’s ninth of the campaign. After working hard over the winter to recover from the hamstring injury that cut short his first season at the club, the former UCD captain started against the Gypsies at Dalymount Park in February but damaged ligaments in his knee that sidelined him for over two months.
He returned to the squad for the game against Derry City at Oriel Park in mid-April and has featured seven times since then with his lone start coming in the recent 3-0 loss against the Candystripes at the Brandywell.
“I played 90 minutes for the U19 academy team against Finn Harps a few weeks ago and I started the Derry City game at the Brandywell last Monday and the 70 minutes that I got was a positive that I could take out of it,” he said.
“Since the end of July last year, I haven’t played competitive football and it’s 10 months since I’ve played 90 minutes for the first team. That’s the black and white of it.
“To be fair to the lads, there have been some really good performances over the last few weeks, so it’s obviously tough to get into the side anyway, but when you take a look at that stat, it would be a little bit stupid to throw me in from the start against Derry and then against Bohemians four nights later.
“It’s just about getting match sharpness and match fitness back in now. I feel very good and I believe I can contribute a lot once I get up and running.”