Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth was full of praise for his side after they recorded back-to-back victories with a 2-1 win over Derry City at Oriel Park on Friday night.
Goals in either half from Daniel Kelly and Patrick Hoban sealed the victory over the Candystripes and speaking to dundalkfc.com afterwards, Perth said he was happy with his side’s display.
“It was a good performance. There are areas we can improve on which is good. For example, the goal we gave away, we need to work on things like that because we like clean sheets around the football club. We have to improve that but it was a really strong Dundalk performance. The fitness levels in the players’ third game in a week was phenomenal.
“I think it was two really good teams on show,” he added. “I have seen a lot of football this year and that is one of the best games, quality-wise, that I have seen.
“Full credit to Derry City, and the job that Ruaidhri Higgins is doing there. I know that Ruaidhri is championship-winning standard because he won it with us here in 2019. He is a terrific person and I was delighted that we put on a show. I’m just glad we came out the right side of it. ”
The result means that Dundalk are unbeaten in three games since Perth returned to the dugout. The Lilywhites have picked up seven points from nine and the Dubliner was full of praise for the group and feels that there is a togetherness within the entire club that has contributed to the run of form.
“It has nothing got to do with me,” he said. “Yes, we have got seven points from nine since I came in but I have only had four training sessions with the group. It’s about the players and they have responded to the change in setup over the last while.
“Let me be clear, there is a togetherness in this group and at this club, despite the noise. The people in the background, the management, the staff, have all rallied together since I have come back in. I must put that down to the group as opposed to anything I have done. ”
Friday night also marked the end of Chris Shields time as a Lilywhite. The midfielder moves to Linfield next week and Perth paid tribute to the 30-year-old, saying that Shields epitomises everything that the Lilywhites have been since he joined the club in 2013.
“It’s devastating to see players leave but Chris Shields typifies everything that this football club has been about over the last eight years. Because of his improvement as a footballer, other players have benefited. I remember his amazing pass down in Cork in the President’s Cup in 2019, outside of the boot and we scored as a result of it, I remember his great goal in Cork also in 2018.
“Even though I wasn’t around, my favourite Chris Shields moment was him lifting the FAI Cup trophy in the Aviva Stadium last year. I don’t like the word legend – and there is no better man to claim he is one anyway – but he deserves that title. It has been an amazing career here for him.
“The best praise that Chris can be given is that Stephen Kenny got the Ireland job on the back of the great things that happened here. Jamie McGrath, Daryl Horgan, Andy Boyle have all been capped by Ireland and Chris played a huge part in that. He made players better. ”
Next up for Dundalk is a visit to the champions on Friday night with Shamrock Rovers lying in wait at Tallaght Stadium and Perth is looking forward to a clash that could see his team cut the gap on the Hoops to eight points.
“I am looking forward to it and a full week on the training ground but I have told the lads to expect a lot of work. I think there are things that we have to be better at and we are going to work on those.
“Away to Shamrock Rovers is probably the hardest game you can have at the moment. It’s difficult, but we need people to stick with us. There are going to be good times and there will be bad times and we haven’t turned the corner yet at this club. We have a long way to go.
“We are starting to steady the ship, that’s all. I couldn’t even tell you what team Rovers have put out in the last two weeks because I have been focused on us and what’s next but now we are focused on Rovers and we are looking forward to it. “