Reserves: Bohemians 0-1 Dundalk – Report & Reaction
Captain Johnny Breen got Dundalk’s 2011 Newstalk A-Championship campaign off to a flying start as they defeated last year’s beaten finalists Bohemians 1-0 at Dalymount Park last Saturday afternoon. The decisive goal came with just a quarter-of-an-hour remaining when Mark Griffin linked up with his strike partner, playing a neat ball through to Breen who blasted to the top corner from the edge of the box.
Reflecting on his side’s display, manager Darius Kierans told dundalkfc.com: “It was a solid performance from us. We had worked on a lot of shape during the week. We knew that Bohs would try to play and pass the ball. They were beaten finalists in the A-Championship last year, and U20s, and had most of those players playing on Saturday. We set up during the week and worked hard on a lot of things and, to be fair, the boys brought it into the game with them and reaped their rewards. I think we were full value for the win. The first half, there wasn’t a whole lot; it was pretty much a stalemate. We had two long-range efforts on target, and they had one. The second half was much, much better. Johnny Breen and Mark Griffin came into the game for us and were both excellent. Johnny scored one and could have had three or four.”
Dundalk finished third in last year’s A-Championship, 11 points behind table toppers Bohemians, and with Derry City, Sligo Rovers, Drogheda United, UCD, Finn Harps and Fanad United also in this season’s group, Kierans feels their opening result is a great start. “Bohs would be one of the stronger teams in it,” Darius said, “and they had all their main players playing. They had lads that were involved with the first team on Friday night (against Saint Patrick’s Athletic); Gary Burke and Keith Buckley, who came on for the first team. They obviously have the pick of Dublin, but we’re very happy with the performance of the boys. Three U17s played; Gerard McSorley came on at half-time and did very well, Kurt Murphy came on and did well, and Cian Byrne started and was having a cracking game until he had to come off injured after 20 minutes. From that point of view, to give some of the young lads a taste against one of the stronger teams, it was a great performance and result.”
Asked how important doing well in the A-Championship is to him, Kierans said: “It’s nice to win games and it’s nice to play against the best teams in Dublin, but I think development is more important, to be honest. You’re looking for performances, and blooding the younger players coming through. At the end of the day, if you win the A-Championship and have no players coming through, or if you don’t win the A-Championship and you bring through three players – I know which I’d rather have and what is more important to the club. It is nice to win, and players need a winning mentality as well, learn how to keep clean sheets and go away and set up different ways and play different systems. It’s all very important for the development of players, but at the same time it is nice for them to learn the winning habit.” Commenting on the progress of Breen, the former Drogheda United boss added: “I have seen a massive improvement in Johnny since I’ve come into the club.
“He’s staying higher, he’s playing in between centre halves, he’s holding the line, and his link-up play is very good,” the 31-year-old continued. “He’s working hard in training. He’s a great lad, Johnny, and Mark. They’re a credit to the boys in the club; Martin (Connolly), Alan (Browne) and Mondo (Trimble) and the lads that have done work with them. Their attitudes are top notch. Once you’re willing to learn and willing to work, you’re going to improve.” Next up for Dundalk Reserves is a home game against Fanad United this Saturday afternoon (kick-off at Oriel Park is 1pm). “With some first-team players being injured it limits our squad with the A-team, and the U17s have a semi-final on Sunday,” Darius said, “so we’ll have to bear that in mind and give them every chance of winning that. Michael Hector was the best player on the park in Dalymount last weekend. He was exceptional. We keep forgetting he is only 18. Whether we’ll have him or not, we’ll probably have to see how it goes in the game on Friday. But we’ll take it game by game. It’s a different kind of game against Fanad. We expect them to be big, strong and physical, but hopefully we can get a result.”
DUNDALK RESERVES (4-4-2): Alex Reilly; Brian Begley, Michael Hector, Cian Byrne (Keith Finnegan 20), Stephen Hutchinson; Anto Hewitt (Gerard McSorley HT), Philip Duffy, Conor Gorman (Kurt Murphy 75), Chris Kerr; Johnny Breen ©, Mark Griffin.