Dundalk head coach Stephen O’Donnell said he was given plenty of heart by the fans’ response to last week’s disappointing loss at home to Shamrock Rovers.

A crowd of 3,761 came out in the teeming rain to watch the Hoops take full advantage of Robbie Benson’s red card to record their first win of the campaign.

The defeat was just Dundalk’s second in a league game at Oriel Park under O’Donnell and the former club captain said the reaction from the supporters at full-time gave him and his players real encouragement.

“It was a miserable night, not one where you would have looked out the window at half six and said: ‘I’ll go to Oriel’ but they stayed until the end and although they were disappointed, I felt that they understood our situation.

“It was always going to be tough after we went a man down but the supporters backed the team and even at the end of the match, they stayed back and clapped us off and that had a huge effect on the players.

“I can’t thank the fans enough for their support in that regard. It was massive and the players and the staff really appreciated that.”

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O’Donnell said the reaction brought back memories of Dundalk’s defeat at home to Friday night’s opponents, Sligo Rovers, in October 2016 flooding back.

Despite losing 3-0, Stephen Kenny’s men were given plenty of encouragement when they left the pitch and they responded by going on to lift the league title.

“When the chips are down, that’s when you can sense the camaraderie and unity at a club,” said O’Donnell.

“Obviously, we want results like last week to be the exception rather than the rule and we’re not looking for the fans to clap us off if we’ve lost another four or five times at home but I think the Rovers game was in isolation and the reaction from the supporters at the end was huge for the players’ confidence.

“They really took it on board and it’ll make it easier for them going into Friday evening’s game.”