Still a huge amount to play for – Gill
It was a disappointing night in Tallaght on Wednesday as Slovan Bratislava ended Dundalk’s European journey for the 2019 season, with a 4-1 aggregate win in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
Dundalk First team coach John Gill was left to wonder what might have been on a night when Dundalk created a host of chances only to find Slovan keeper Dominik Greif in fine form once again, whilst at the other end some clinical finishes put the tie beyond Dundalk at half time, despite a stirring second half comeback.
“It’s disappointing,” said Gill. “I think it’s one we left behind us. Usually we’ve been really quite solid in Europe bar the last 15 minutes in Qarabag, but tonight we really gave away three presents and you can’t afford to that at this level.
“But tonight we were much more like ourselves going forward. I thought offensively we were excellent. We created a bundle of chances, a bundle of corners. Their keeper was magnificent and was magnificent over there, but you’ve got to do it at both ends of the pitch.
“Up to this we’ve been really solid in Europe – some people would say maybe too solid at the expense of the offensive side – but tonight we were very good offensively and we just had an off day defensively, which we haven’t had all season.”
“It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a lesson we’ll learn from. We’ll dust ourselves down. There’s still a huge amount to play for. We’re still in three domestic trophies. We want to try and do as well in them as we can.”
With European competition over for another year, domestic matters now take centre stage once again, with fixtures coming up against Finn Harps and Bohemians – in a revised EA Sports Cup semi-final – either side of this coming weekend.
Gill has already set his sights on two “massive” fixtures on the immediate horizon and he’s confident that the players will react to a disappointing European night in typically professional fashion.
“We’ve got a massive game against Finn Harps on Friday and then we’ve got the semi-final of the EA Sports Cup, which is a national trophy, on Monday,” said Gill.
“We want to get three points in the bag on Friday and we want to progress to the final of a League Cup, so there’s a huge amount to play for. There’s obviously a lot of disappointed and tired bodies in the dressing room.
“We’ll dust ourselves down and we’ll make sure we park this because we have to. You’ve got to be professional and that’s one thing that this group of players are. They are very professional and very focused.”
Dundalk are on a fantastic run of 18 games unbeaten in domestic competition – including 14 league wins and two draws in their last 16 games – and Gill believes that, despite the disappointment of last night’s exit, confidence will be high as the team return to domestic matters and the possibility of a domestic treble.
“Absolutely, we’re confident. We’re still in three competitions and we want to win all three competitions. We feel we’ve the squad to win all three competitions, but we’ve got to get over the disappointment [of tonight],” he said.
“We can’t wallow in self-pity perhaps as much as we’d maybe like to. We’ve got to be professional and focused because, if we’re not, this game has a habit of kicking you in the you-know-whats, so we’ll dust ourselves down tomorrow and hopefully go and get a win on Friday night.”