Stephen O’Donnell cut a frustrated figure after another “inexcusable” concession, with the manager stating that Dundalk must be “cleaner” in their play.

The Lilywhites suffered a third straight defeat as Ruairí Keating’s first-half goal edged Saint Patrick’s Athletic to a 1-0 win at Richmond Park on Friday night.

The result leaves O’Donnell’s side rooted to the bottom of the table, with Waterford FC next up at Oriel Park on Friday  night.

Dundalk could only improve from their performance in the 5-0 defeat last Monday and they were arguably the better team for much of the first half, O’Donnell describing the manner of the decisive goal as “basic”.

“I thought we started the game quite well,” he said afterwards. “Again, we gave up such a basic goal. We need to eradicate that.

“In the second half, it took us a little bit to get into our stride and then I thought we owned the last 20-25 minutes. Over the course of the game, we had chances to equalise, but we didn’t take them.”

Dundalk players, from left, Hayden Muller, Louie Annesley, Andy Boyle and Zak Bradshaw form a wall to defend a free kick taken by Brandon Kavanagh of St Patrick’s Athletic during the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division match between St Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk at Richmond Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

On the players’ response to their hiding by Sligo, O’Donnell added: “I thought they showed good effort. I never doubted that. We just need to be cleaner in our game. I thought the opportunity was on to go and play through St Pat’s in the second half.

“We did occasionally, but I thought it was on to do it more frequently – just back ourselves and have more belief in ourselves as players.”

Ahead of the international break, Dundalk face the newly-promoted Blues at Oriel Park next Friday, and O’Donnell knows his team must be better at both ends of the pitch.

“We need to start picking up points,” he admitted. “Looking back, apart from a couple of set-pieces, I didn’t think St Pat’s posed much of a threat.

“The goal we gave up, it’s a hook from one of their midfielders and they’re in on goal. It’s inexcusable and you leave yourself with a mountain to climb.

“You take the first punch. We responded well to that in the first half, we were pressing. In the last 20-25 minutes, I thought we were doing quite a bit of pressing and looking dangerous.

“There was a great last-ditch tackle on Jamie Gullan. Scott High and Sam Durrant had efforts, both looked like they were going in, Robbie Benson’s header as well, so that’s four big chances in the second half.

“I’m disappointed ultimately with the defeat. The effort was there, and we just need to be cleaner. We need to put more vital value on our quality.”