Perth calls for another “massive” night in Tallaght
Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth has called on the club’s supporters – and the wider Irish football community – to pack Tallaght Stadium next Tuesday as the Lilywhites look to overturn a one goal deficit in their UEFA Europa League third qualifying round second leg tie with Slovan Bratislava.
In an open first leg at the NFS Tehelne pole, with chances at both ends, Perth’s men put in an improved performance but were rocked by an 86th minute David Holman winner, before John Mountney hit the crossbar for the visitors in injury time.
Whilst Perth said he was disappointed to concede the late goal, he believes his side are still very much in the tie and called on people from Dundalk and beyond to pack out Tallaght for what could prove to be another memorable European night.
“I think there were a lot of chances for both teams tonight. Obviously the home side had more, but we’re still in the tie to take it to Tallaght next week. It’s half time and the game is in the balance,” he said.
“We’ve seen tonight what a partizan crowd can do for a game and we need that next week. We need the whole town behind us and, to be fair, we probably need a bit of Irish football behind us next week. I think there’s a positive result there for us, but we’ll need to be at our very, very best.
“We’ve had big European nights before in Ireland and we need one of them. There are two good sides, but we’ve created chances that makes us feel we have a chance.”
Perth made two key changes to the team that started against Qarabag in Baku last week, with Sean Murray coming in for Sean Hoare in midfield and Patrick McEleney giving way to John Mountney, with Jamie McGrath moved into the number 10 role.
Whilst Dundalk failed to trouble the scoresheet, the new line-up created a number of chances that could have been taken and Perth was pleased with the overall balance of the side, giving him optimism ahead of next week’s decisive second leg.
“I think for the first time in a long time, we were much more balanced and looked much more like ourselves,” said the 42-year-old. “I think Sean Murray and Jamie McGrath, in particular, were really good for us tonight, so I think the changes we made worked.
“I would like us to be a bit more clinical in the final third, but I think that you’re starting to see a bit more of what we’re about tonight.
“At times we kept the ball well but, at the same time, there are areas of improvement in the team and, as I said, it needs a massive night in Tallaght next week. We need everyone behind us because the margins at this level are fine.”
Tallaght Stadium has been the scene of many good nights for Dundalk in Perth’s time at the club. League titles, EA Sports Cup finals and FAI cup semi-finals have all been won there, but some of the most memorable occasions have been reserved for European nights.
The most notable of all was the visit of BATE Borisov in 2016, when the Belarusian champions brought with them a 1-0 lead to defend but found it overturned as Dundalk sealed a famous 3-0 second leg win in the pouring rain.
Now Perth is hoping to recreate that sort of night both on and off the pitch, and he has called not only on Dundalk fans, but also supporters from the wider Irish football family, to come together and help create another memorable night in Tallaght.
“We have a part to play on the pitch, but I think we definitely need a big support. We need not just the people of Dundalk, but maybe some neutrals. People chat away about Irish football and everyone seems to have an opinion, but maybe it’s time we probably all dug in together and got one big European result for this team,” he said.
“I think it’s coming for them. We have to keep a clean sheet, obviously, but I think we’ll create chances next week. We’ll need a big night. Tallaght has been a special place for us over the years and hopefully it can be again next Tuesday.”
Tickets for the second leg in Tallaght, priced €5-€15 are available to buy online now.