Miller Annoyed at Negativity
Dundalk midfielder Tom Miller feels that his side are “good enough to be where we are” and has stated his annoyance at the negativity surrounding the club’s current position in the table. Miller, who arrived at Oriel Park from Rangers in February and has played a key role in the club’s rise back to the top of Irish football, was speaking ahead of the visit of the champions of the last two years, Bohemians, to Oriel Park this Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm). And while the 19-year-old acknowledges that the Lilywhites face a “very tough game”, he is “confident” that they can compete with what is considered the best team on the island.
“It seems like everyone feels we’re punching above our weight,” Miller told dundalkfc.com, “in terms of our league position. But I feel we’ve got a good enough squad to be where we are. The only problem we might have is the depth to the squad, but we’ve got a few young boys coming through that can come in and do a job. I feel everyone just needs to be a bit more positive and we can push for it until the end, definitely, and be up there. It’s anybody’s league. If Galway can beat Bohs then you know it’s anybody’s league; it’s whoever performs better on the night. I definitely feel we can challenge, as long as we don’t pick up too many injuries and suspensions – that’s the only thing that might hold us back. If that did happen it would obviously make it a bit more challenging for us.
“In the end, third would be a good achievement for us,” he added, “but we’ll see what happens. We know it’s going to be a very tough game on Friday. I’ve never seen Bohs play but I’ve heard good things about them. It will be difficult and we know we’ll have to be at the top of our game to get something out of it. We need to start bright; you can’t go 2-0 behind against a team like Bohs and expect to come back. They’ll shut up shop and you’re gone. But we’re confident going into the game. Of course, we’re pleased with the start we’ve made. If you had said at the beginning that we’d be second at this stage everyone would have been more than happy. We’ve got another big game now and we’ll be going for another three points. I really think it’s anybody’s league this year and I think we’ve got a good enough squad to push Bohs all the way.”
Room for improvement
Dundalk suffered their first defeat of the year in Ian Foster’s 14th game in charge last weekend when losing 2-1 to Sporting Fingal at Morton Stadium. And Miller knows that the side much start matches much better if they are to avoid repeat results. “It was disappointing to lose but it was always going to come,” he said. “I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game, though. Our first-half performances haven’t been good enough. We respect other teams far too much and it takes a little while to realise that we’re a better team than most. We just need to start games better and that’s something that the manager has addressed, so I think from now on we’ll start from the first whistle, which is important because I think we’re down near the bottom on points based on the first half. We obviously need to improve on that and we’re going to work hard to do so. The second half, we’ve had no problem with – we’ve been the better team in every game, I feel. It’s been a game of two halves so we know we need to start better.”
However, according to the young star, the loss at Fingal never took the squad’s focus off Monday’s trip to Galway, where Ross Gaynor’s goal on the hour-mark secured a precious three points. “In a way, it’s kind of a weight off our shoulders now that that unbeaten run is gone,” Tom said. “Even though we were obviously disappointed, we didn’t get too down because we knew that we had another game on Monday; we kept our heads up, worked hard and went out to win in Galway. The win was important; we need to be winning games like that if we want to stay near the top of the table. I thought the performance in the first half was a little bit better than it has been. We had quite a few chances, including a disallowed goal and a missed penalty. I think we won the game comfortably, even though it was only 1-0. In football terms it wasn’t the greatest game but we did what we had to do and got the three points. We’ve got a heavy schedule coming up. Personally, I’m a bit tired because I’m not used to playing so many games, but the Gaffer has made sure that we rest up properly – we went swimming on Wednesday to loosen up, so our preparation for games is right.”
Foster has no suspensions to contend with but he remains without midfielder Alan Cawley (cheekbone) who has been absent since mid-March. However, young striker Tiarnán Mulvenna is edging closer to a return to first-team action for the first time in six months and is likely to again take his place on the bench having played the full 90 minutes in last Saturday’s A-Championship Cup draw with Drogheda United at Oriel Park. The task facing Dundalk this weekend is illustrated by the stats, with the Lilywhites not registering a league win over their Dublin rivals since 18 September 2001, the six league meetings since then ending in two draws (in 2001/02) and four defeats (in 2009). The Louth club’s last win over Bohs came on 7 April 2002 in the FAI Cup final when Garry Haylock’s double brought the cup back to Oriel, and Ger Rowe’s goal at Dalymount Park on 18 September last year was the first time that Dundalk had scored against them in seven meetings in all competitions since that Tolka Park decider. Added to that, Bohs have lost their last two league outings – the last time they lost three on the trot was in November 2006.