Kearns Confident Squad Can Cope
Dundalk FC winger Daniel Kearns is confident that the team bond at Oriel Park will “stand us in good stead for the season” and help the Lilywhites through their current injury problems, which leaves a 16-man senior squad for a hectic period in April. Friday night’s win over UCD was the first of eight games in the coming month for Ian Foster and his players, who are back in action on Monday evening when they take on Cliftonville in the first leg of the clubs’ Setanta Sports Cup semi-final tie at Solitude (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Lilywhites were rocked during the week by the news that they will be without midfielders Greg Bolger and Stephen Maher and left-back Eoghan Osborne for the coming weeks. But Kearns, who scored his first goal at Oriel Park in the 3-1 victory over the Students, feels the squad’s togetherness will see them through. “There have been a few serious injuries over the last few days and I know we may be a bit bare at the minute, but we’re all gelling well together,” Daniel told dundalkfc.com. “We’re a tight group and that can only stand us in good stead for the season. It’s a tough, tough month for us, obviously with the Setanta Cup and League Cup as well. We have a lot of games, but it’s up to us – as long as we prepare well, eat the right foods and that, we should be alright.”
Off the mark
In his 12th competitive outing at the border venue, Kearns finally found the net, squeezing in Mark Quigley’s magnificent assist at De Town End on the stroke of half-time. The 19-year-old Belfast-born winger had recently stated his desire to add goals to his game – his only previous strikes for the club coming with a hat-trick against Linfield at Windsor Park in February – and he was delighted to get off the mark at Oriel. “It took a little nick but I’ll take them; they all count,” he said. “Quigs did brilliant. At one time I thought he got a bit crowded out, but he showed great feet and he done well to pull it back for me. It’s nice to score but it was all about the result and the three points and I’m glad we got it. I thought we played quite well. We were obviously really disappointed about the result last week, so it was important to get the win. It’s a good result for us.”
Dundalk went into the game having thrown away a 2-0 lead against Saint Patrick’s Athletic seven days earlier, and while Kearns admitted some worry when UCD pulled a goal back through Paul Corry’s fantastic free-kick on 69 minutes, the youngster felt his side showed they have learned from last week’s lesson. “Once they scored, I think we got that in our minds,” Daniel said, “not to concede again. I don’t think they put enough pressure on us to go on and get another one, and once we got the third one, we got tight and compact, and saw the game out.” The Lilywhites make the first of two trips north of the border in the coming week on Monday. For Kearns, it will be a short trip to Cliftonville, and he has set his sights on taking an away goal into the return leg. “We’re going into it with confidence after beating UCD,” he said, “and hopefully we can get a result. We would like to get one or a couple of goals up there, which would put us in a good position to progress into the final.”
For the trip to Belfast, Foster will have to plan without Bolger (thigh strain), Maher (torn groin muscles) and Osborne (fractured tibia). Midfielder Dean Bennett (hamstring strain) is also doubtful.