McCarey hails ‘superb’ first half performance
Dundalk FC made it through to the semi-finals of the Extra.ie FAI Cup on Monday night with a 3-1 win over Waterford FC at the RSC.
A Daniel Kelly hat-trick inside 24 first half minutes set Vinny Perth’s men on their way to victory, before an Aaron McCarey penalty save from Shane Duggan maintained Dundalk’s first-half dominance to go into the break 3-0 up.
McCarey, who made a number of important saves on the night to keep Dundalk in control, was delighted with his side’s performance before the break and was pleased to make his own mark, particularly with the penalty save.
“I thought we were superb in the first half. By our own high standards we probably just weren’t the same in the second half, but, to progress into the semi-final is a great night,” said the 27-year-old.
“I think the penalty was harsh on Garts [Brian Gartland], so it was a wee bit frustrating to concede it but, once it was given, I had full confidence in my ability to save it. I had my homework done and knew, if Duggan took it, where he was going to go.
“It’s a credit to the professionalism of the backroom staff, because we had our homework done on it and I’m thankful that I managed to save it. Maybe there was a wee bit of luck that it stuck, but it’s nice that it didn’t spill back out.
“It was an important part of the game, because we were a bit sloppy for a while after we scored the third goal, which was a wonderful team goal, but it was important to go in at half-time with a three-nil lead.”
After the break, the home side came back into the tie and put pressure on the Dundalk back four, as the Lilywhites’ performance level understandly dipped a little, after an excellent first half.
The Blues pulled a goal back when Gartland was unlucky to see his clearing header rebound back of Waterford’s Maxim Kouogun.
McCarey was left helpless as the ball looped into the net to give the home side hope, but the Monaghan native stood firm thereafter, making a few important saves to keep the two goal cushion until the final whistle.
“It was a bit frustrating in the second half that we didn’t get to the heights we did in the first half, but I think you have to give Waterford a bit of credit as well,” said McCarey.
“They came out all guns blazing and, when they got the goal, they sensed a bit of an opportunity to get back into the game but credit to the lads, we snuffed them out.
“It was a disappointing goal to concede because Garts has headed it off the lad and it’s looped up in. It’s a scrappy goal all around and its disappointing not to get a clean sheet, but the most important thing tonight was to get the win and get into the semi-final.”
With a place in Thursday’s semi-final draw now confirmed, Vinny Perth’s men know they will have a shot at taking the club to its fifth consecutive FAI Cup final.
Add to that a 10-point lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League and an EA Sports Cup final to come against Derry City this Saturday and there is a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks.
McCarey feels the squad are in the ideal position as the season reaches its climax, but says attention has already turned to Saturday’s trip to the Brandywell and a chance to secure a first trophy of the season.
“It’s the business end of the season and that’s where you want to be – involved in all competitions. It’s a credit to the lads and the management team that we’ve got ourselves into this position,” he said.
“We’re in a good position in the league and we’ve got two big league games coming up after Derry, but our full focus is on Saturday’s final. We’re going for our first bit of silverware at the weekend. We want to go up to Derry and collect that trophy and bring it back to Dundalk.”