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Shelbourne 0-0 Dundalk: Gill Reaction

First Team News
// 20 Jul 2008

“It’s going to go right to the wire. We’re all going to have no nails and heart murmurs by the end of it, but that’s the way that this league is” – Gill

Dundalk manager John Gill saw his side maintain their two-point advantage at the summit of the eircom League of Ireland First Division, after they took a point away from title rivals Shelbourne. However, as the leading quartet are now separated by just three points, the boss knows that the promotion race is likely to go to the final weekend of the season. The Lilywhites missed out on the chance to go four points clear at the head of affairs, and, afterwards, Gill admitted that it is hard to see anyone pulling away at the top.

“It’s going to go right to the wire,” Gill told dundalkfc.com. “We’re all going to have no nails and heart murmurs by the end of it, but that’s the way that this league is – there are no easy games in it. I’m not going to panic. I’ve been involved in this situation, as the ad says, more times than I care to remember. I’m not going to panic and neither are the players. My job is to keep them focussed on the job in hand, and that’s what I intend doing.

“Obviously, we know that we need to strengthen, and to improve on what we showed tonight. But we’ve got quality players that are capable of doing that. It was a nervous game probably for both teams – it was kind of damned if u did and damned if you didn’t. Both teams were probably afraid of losing it. It was always going to be a tough battle coming here. They’ve now had three draws and two defeats in the last five games. We’ve had two wins, two losses and a draw. We’re still hanging in there. There’s a long, long way to go, and it will go right to the wire.

“There are still seventeen games left, but one thing is for sure, we’ll need to up our performance levels that we showed in the second-half tonight if we really want to be serious title contenders. The players know that themselves – I’ve told them that – but it wasn’t from lack of effort or lack of trying. They worked their socks off. I thought both teams’ fitness levels, for two part-time teams, were excellent. I thought they actually looked a little bit fresher than us near the end of the game, and very few teams have done that to us. But we’ll take our point and we’ll go away and analyse it, and see what areas we can brush up on.”

On his side’s performance, Gill admitted: “I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed with the second-half performance; I thought we were poor. I thought we were decent in the first-half, I thought it was a good game, but I thought we had too many players in the second-half who thought that a draw would be a good result and settled for that. That’s not good enough. In saying that, it’s a point away from home, but, really, we should be looking to go on the front foot and try to win the game. I just felt that a couple of players thought that a draw would be a good result.

“We were poor in the second-half. We looked like we were content to sit back and defend a 0-0 draw, which is always a dangerous game to play. But, in saying that, that could be a very vital point come the end of the season. It’s a difficult place to come. They’re on a bad run, but they probably knew tonight that there was a lot of pressure on them, and, in fairness, full credit to them. They played well in the second-half. I thought we played well in the first-half, but after the break, we threw out the window what we worked on during the week. We did work on specific things, but we didn’t try to adhere to them in the second-half.

“We showed a lack of composure in the last third of the pitch. We got into some good positions and we tried to force the pass, and we either gave the possession away or were sloppy with our passing. I think we got into some good positions in the second-half, but our decision making was poor. But, in saying that, you’ve come away from your main rival with a 0-0 draw.

“Again, the doom and gloom merchants will be out saying that we haven’t beaten one of our nearest title challengers, but they haven’t beaten us here. Tonight, we are where we started the day, and that’s all we can keep doing. It’s three games unbeaten now, and we’ve only lost one game away from home all year. We have got to tidy up on our home form, and, if we do that, I think we’ll be okay.”