Reaction | Winning Feeling
Three of the players involved in Saturday’s EA SPORTS Cup triumph over Shamrock Rovers have been reflecting on a wonderful day for the club after the Lilywhites lifted the trophy for the sixth time in our history courtesy of a 3-0 win at Tallaght Stadium.
For Jamie McGrath, it was his first winner’s medal as a Dundalk FC player and the midfielder, who supplied the pass which led to Patrick McEleney’s goal, praised the collective effort.
“Personally, that’s my third cup in-a-row now so it’s great but today is about a great performance from the lads,” stated McGrath.
“It wasn’t easy conditions out there but I think we adapted well and we fought hard for every ball. We matched Rovers in every department and our quality got us through in the end.
“It was good to get an early goal and settle the nerves in a cup final. The first half wasn’t easy as they were pressing us but we fought very well for it so it was a well-deserved win.
“Patrick can do that with the quality that he has. I gave it to him and I didn’t think he was going to shoot but then he put it in the top bin. When you’re playing with players like that it makes you look better so it was some finish.
“It shows the depth of our squad. Every player is as good as one another and can all do an equal job as anyone else. Even with Steven Kinsella coming on and then the skipper coming on at the end it just shows the depth that we have.
“This was my first minutes back after I got my appendix out so I found the first few minutes tough to get going, but once I got used to it but it was grand.”
Chris Shields, meanwhile, captained the Lilywhites on the day and the midfielder expressed his delight with the outcome.
“It was a great team performance all round and we’re happy to take the cup home,” he said. “It was good to keep another clean sheet, the centre half pairing were excellent and got the clean sheet they deserved.
“It was a great goal and a great start, it settled us down and gave us control. But David is playing well at the minute and the goal is no more than he deserved.
“Rovers were a threat with set pieces throughout the first half but we dug in and got to half time. Then we controlled the game for the second half.
“I thought we had a lot more chances than them. We took control of the game after the sending off for them.
“Patrick’s goal was brilliant. He’s having a great year and it’s no more than he deserves. He can always produce in big games and today was no different.
“The third goal was a brilliant team goal. I’m delighted for Thomas to score because he has played in all the games in this competition.
“It’s incredible. It feels as good as winning it back in 2014, you never know how many finals you will ever win so it’s brilliant to add another medal to the collection.
“John and me are the longest serving players at the club, and to be captain today is special for me personally. I asked Stephen O’Donnell to lift the trophy with me but he insisted I did it.
“We will enjoy winning this trophy but we still have another one to play for and a day out in the Aviva.”
Patrick McEleney stole the show with another incredible strike, and the Lilywhites star man said winning the match was all that mattered.
“It’s never easy coming down to Tallaght but we dug in and won it well,” said McEleney. “It’s important to start the game well and it put the home team on the back foot but we are very pleased with our start.
“Shamrock Rovers at home in a final is never going to be easy and we’re delighted with winning the cup. It was a tough battle but we were solid defensively and clinical in front of goal.
“We are judged on winning trophies, it’s nice to win this one but we have another one to win now.
“Jamie picked up the ball, he cut it back to me and I tried to reverse it into the far corner and luckily I hit it perfect and it went in.
“Tommy works really hard behind the scenes and I’m absolutely delighted for him to get his goal today, he’s been top class for us.”