Dundalk slipped to their fourth defeat of the season against Sligo Rovers on Friday night and midfielder Sean Murray knows that things won’t get any easier for the confidence-shorn Lilywhites.
Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic all lie in wait ahead of the mid-season break on May 28th but next up for the Lilywhites is a trip to Finn Park on Friday next to face Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps in series 11.
Horgan, who guided his side to a 2-1 win at Oriel Park in series two, was back on the Carrick Road to watch Jordan Gibson’s first-half goal secure Liam Buckley’s Bit o’Red a deserved win in front of the RTE cameras and Murray knows that Dundalk will need to seriously get their act together if they are to avoid another bruising in Ballybofey.
“It’s a game where we’ll need to show real character,” he told dundalkfc.com. “We have to show some fight and that’s what everybody at the club needs right now. There’s no better place to show that than Finn Harps away.
“I don’t think we’re putting in the worst performances but average performances are not what Dundalk FC stands for,” he continued. “We have to pick ourselves up, get some belief back in the dressing room and I’m sure we will.
Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan was in attendance at the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Dundalk and Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile
“We have big characters in there who will bring us back together but we’ve got ourselves into a position where we can only look at the next game – and we simply have to win it,” he said.
Reflecting on yet another under-par display, Murray said he was frustrated that Dundalk fared better against 11 men than they did against 10 after Garry Buckley’s 53rd-minute dismissal.
“We created more chances in the first half,” he sighed. “Sligo were higher up the pitch and we had spaces in behind when we were up against 11. When they went down to 10 men and dropped off we changed the way we played and we went longer and wide trying to get crosses in.
“Nothing fell for us cleanly. On another day that might have been different but we can’t be relying on going long. That’s something we need to take forward. We’ve made a lot of mistakes which have seen us go behind in lots of games and that is something we really need to rectify as well.”
Sligo Rovers goalkeeper Ed McGinty makes a save from a Wilfred Zahibo header during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match at Oriel Park. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
After making his first start of 2021 against Longford Town four days earlier, the 27-year-old completed the whole game on Friday night, and after a tough winter, which saw him undergo two operations to fix a troublesome groin injury, he is hoping for a change in fortunes.
“It’s been a tough few months for me but I felt good after the game in Longford and that was the first time I had felt like that in a long time,” he said. “I played 90 minutes tonight and, hopefully, that’s me now.
“After having two operations in the space of a few months, I didn’t know what way I’d come out of it but I feel great and I can move better which is a huge thing for me.
“Even when I was playing last season, I was struggling but I feel free and that’s what I need. I can take confidence from that and I’m hoping it will allow me to go out and help the team as best I can now.”
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