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Kelly Determined To Finish With A Flourish

First Team News
// 13 Nov 2020

After returning to full training on Friday morning, Lilywhites winger Daniel Kelly is desperate to make up for lost time in the final weeks of the season.

‘Dicky’ has been sidelined since late October after picking up a knee injury in the 0-0 draw with his former club Bohemians – who Dundalk face in the FAI Cup quarter-final next Friday. 

As a result, the 24-year-old – who sealed Dundalk’s passage to the Europa League group stages with the third goal against KI in the play off round – has played no part in the Lilywhites’ three Group B matches to date, something which he has found ‘hard to take’.

“I’ve been out for a couple of weeks and had a couple of things done to the knee,” he explained to dundalkfc.com. “It seems to be working fine now and I’m back on the mend and back in training so I’m looking forward to the game with Bohs next week.

“Mentally, it’s been tough watching the lads. When I scored against KI at the Aviva it was great and I really felt part of it so to miss out on the three European games has been hard to take.

“It’s a pity I couldn’t play at the Emirates, in particular,” he added. “Considering where I was a few years ago, it was a dream to be there. I was on the bench and it was great to take it all in so I just can’t wait to get back and play Arsenal at the Aviva in December now.”

Daniel Kelly, pictured during a Dundalk training session at Oriel Park. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

With 11 days to prepare for the last eight clash with Bohs, Filippo Giovagnoli afforded his players the rare luxury of a couple of days off this week. It gave Kelly and his teammates a chance to reflect on a turbulent league season which ended with a 2-0 defeat at home to Sligo Rovers on Monday night.

Finn Harps’ 1-0 win over Waterford was enough to secure Dundalk a third-place finish – and European football in 2021 – but Kelly acknowledged that the Lilywhites were below par on a number of occasions this year.

“There were a lot of things that affected us,” he said. “It was a strange year. We lost Harry Taaffe and then we lost Vinny Perth. There was a lot of change and a lot of stuff going on in the background. We just wanted to get everything back to where it is and we’ll start afresh in the league next season. 

“The Europa League group stages have been a major high,” he added, “and if you had asked any of the lads here, they would have bitten your hand off to make the European places for next season and qualify for the group stages this year. 

“You can’t have the best of everything. We were a bit disappointed with the league, everybody knows that, but if we can finish third and win the FAI Cup after qualifying for the Europa league group stages, that will have been a great year.”