Foster Taking “Each Game As It Comes”
Dundalk FC manager Ian Foster says he is taking “each game as it comes” as his side prepare for two games in four days for the fourth weekend running. The Lilywhites are coming to the close of eight games in a 24-day period and are in the midst of an injury crisis. And Foster is looking solely at the game against his former club Galway United at Terryland Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm), with their test against Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Monday evening put on the back burner for the moment.
“We’ll approach the match as any other,” Foster told dundalkfc.com when looking ahead to Friday’s trip west. “We’ll be well prepared; we’ll know everything about Galway United and we’ll go there and try to play on the front foot and try to get a result. Terryland Park is a difficult place to go and I’m sure Friday night will be no different. Galway United have, for me, the capability to beat anyone in this division. They have some very good players, but, like ourselves, they are finding it difficult at the moment with injuries. The amount of games is taking its toll on everybody, and Galway are no different at the minute.”
Having lost their opening three away games in the league while enjoying a 100 percent record on the road in the Setanta Sports Cup, Dundalk got their first victory on their travels in their last outing when they snatched a late winner at Drogheda United, a result which Foster is hoping to build on. “Absolutely; that’s something that we discussed with the players this week,” he said. “We got a great result in Drogheda. Although we had lost our opening three league games away from home, our away form in the Setanta Cup had obviously been decent, and I don’t think our away form was something that really bothered the players, because we were winning in Belfast. We’ve won a local derby away from home, which isn’t easy to do, and hopefully we can go west and pick up some points as well.”
Dundalk go into the game on the back of last weekend’s home draws against high-flying Bray Wanderers and league leaders Shamrock Rovers, and reflecting on his side’s points total from the four days, Ian said: “Obviously, two points out of six isn’t what you would want at home. But I think you have to take everything on its merits. We played Bray after playing 120 minutes on the Monday (in Monaghan); we did make changes but we tried to give Kearns and Gaynor a rest and they ended up playing an hour, and Mark Quigley ended up playing 45 minutes. Simon Madden played 120 minutes, as did Michael Hector, Nathan Murphy, Stephen McDonnell and Keith Ward. They played an awful lot of football coming into the weekend when we had the two form teams in the league so far.
“Bray have had a wonderful start to the season,” the 34-year-old added. “I thought we did OK in the game, not fantastic. Obviously, we could have had a little bit of luck in the last ten minutes when Mark Quigley’s overhead kick hit the post and then Jason Byrne gets fouled, which should be a penalty, but unfortunately it wasn’t. And then on Monday I thought we put in a decent performance against the champions at home. We played incredibly well I thought in the second half. It was pleasing to see the players get stronger as the game went on, particularly against the wind. It’s not an easy game to play, at home to the champions, but I thought the players can take a lot of pride in their performance, and hopefully we can build on that for next weekend.”
Dundalk are on a four-match unbeaten run in the league with a win and three draws, and Foster admits that he is keen to start adding wins. “As keen as ever, that’s what you want to do,” he said. “You want to win football matches. I don’t particularly look into unbeaten records or anything like that. If we had won one and lost one over the weekend we would have lost our unbeaten home record but we’d have one more point on the board. I don’t really look into things like that. We want to go to Galway United and try to get a victory. It’s not going to be easy but we’ll give it our best shot. The lads are full of confidence and they’re playing well. Without harping on about it, like every other football club in this country at the moment, we do need a break, but we’re not going to get one in the next couple of weeks.”
The Lilywhites (pictured above scoring at Dalymount Park back in October) are quickly back on the road as they travel to play Bohemians at Dalymount Park, where the Louth club have not won in 18 years, on Monday evening. “I wasn’t aware of our record at Dalymount Park,” Ian said. “At the moment, we just have to take each game as it comes, because we don’t know what personnel we’re going to have for Monday until after Friday’s game. There is not a lot of preparation you can put into the Bohemians game. All we’ve spoke about this week is Galway United. The players will get back late on Friday, they won’t be in Saturday, we’ll train Sunday. You know you’ve got maybe an hour on the pitch with them on Sunday morning trying to organise them for a massive game at Dalymount Park, and it’s not easy to do that, because you’re walking through things because the players have got tired bodies.
Pictures for players
“We’ll try to put pictures in players’ minds of how Bohemians might set up on the day,” he added, “and how we can counter that and try to get a result. We keep hearing about Bohemians’ problems, but I’d love to have some of the problems they have. They have got a wonderful set of players and it’s always going to be difficult to play against them.” Colin Hawkins, who had struggled with both a hamstring injury and vomiting bug over the weekend, admitted that it was a ‘risk’ to play against Shamrock Rovers. And Foster insists, despite the Setanta Sports Cup final next Saturday, he won’t be resting any players this weekend. “I’d love to say ‘yes, we’ll leave him out for the weekend’, but the most important game of the season is Friday,” the Liverpool-born boss said, “because it’s the next game and we’ll pick our strongest team available to us.
“If Colin Hawkins decides that he’s ready to go then he’ll play,” Ian added. “We never put any pressure on Colin over the weekend. It was purely his decision and he said he wanted to play and we commend him for that. Jason Byrne was exactly the same. Both players did a fitness test on the pitch at midday and both came through it saying they wanted to give it a go. Both these boys know there’s a cup final only a couple of weeks away, and both put their bodies on the line to play against Shamrock Rovers. If they decide that they want to do that again on Friday then they’ll play.” When it was put to him that that attitude perhaps dispels the notion that the experienced pair came to Oriel Park for financial gain, Foster stated: “There’s certainly no talk that they’ve come here for money, because we haven’t got any. That’s not the reason they’re here. They’re two senior professionals at our football club. You can see why they’re still playing the game at this level at their age.
“They have wonderful attitudes, fantastic temperaments, great in the dressing room and great on the pitch,” Ian concluded. “They’ve come here and they’ve been wonderful for me. Jason and Colin have won trophies at this level and you can see why. Their attitude and their application is first class. It’s great for the youngsters around the squad to see these two boys putting their bodies on the line the way they are.” For the trip to Galway, Dundalk will again be without Greg Bolger (thigh), Stephen Maher (groin) and Eoghan Osborne (fractured tibia). Dean Bennett (hamstring) and Shane Guthrie (blurred vision & concussion) continue to be assessed.