Sean Murray’s corner lofted over the plethora of bodies that occupied the Qarabag penalty area and it looked as if immediately the chance was gone. The ball was hooked quickly back goal-ward and before the defence had a chance to react, Hoban was o
Sean Murray’s corner lofted over the plethora of bodies that occupied the Qarabag penalty area and it looked as if immediately the chance was gone.
The ball was hooked quickly back goal-ward and before the defence had a chance to react, Hoban was on hand to head the ball home. Someone leaving his seat at Oriel Park last night described the celebrations as ‘3,000 making the sound of 30,000’ - that’s how much it means to the people of Dundalk.
But how much did it mean to Hoban scoring his first Champions League goal for Dundalk?
“I’m absolutely delighted,” with a broad grin etched over his face. Hoban came out of the tunnel tired but not beaten. When asked by a young fan could he have a photo with him Hoban replied ‘How about I have a selfie with you?’ - just like that he made that kids night.
“It’s obviously everything you dream of scoring in the Champions League and to finally do it tonight was a brilliant achievement. It’s another achievement that I have achieved with Dundalk again and I am really happy being captain and representing the club, it’s just all proud moments. But in one sense it was frustrating because we could have won the game but in another sense, you would probably take the result before the game but anyway that’s just the way life is.”
Games like this have one golden moment that teams need to capitalise on, Qarabag got their opportunity as early as the third minute but despite all their endeavour and pressing they couldn’t add a second. The second half saw a fresh hunger from the home side, they finally got going and when Hoban was on hand to score, he made no mistake.
“We done a lot of work on them,” stated Hoban. “We did a lot of detailed work on them in the last week and we knew that they would leave spaces and leave spaces even in front of me.
"We have worked on it all week and worked on our defensive shape all week which I thought we had done really well because you can’t press a team like that the whole game because they will open you up.
"It was poor from us to concede in the way that we did because we defend really, really well from corners and there were so many big men in there and to concede straight away it was a bit of a bummer.
"I thought we reacted well, we defended well and they have a great chance to go two-nil up but I thought we performed well in the first half.”
The second half, it all changed for Dundalk - what was the difference?
“The second half I thought we just believed in ourselves just that little bit more and it was said in there we just need to believe these aren’t too far ahead of us that you think and there was a lot of belief, we could have won the game two or three.”
Last year in the heat of Larnaca, Dundalk succumbed to a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of AEK. It seems Dundalk have learnt more about themselves from that defeat than any other game.
They now know the pressing game in different climates may need to be adapted in order to overcome stronger opposition. Hoban knows this is an aspect they have to take into account.
“There is a lot of lessons to be learned from against Larnaca, we went pressing and pressing and pressing and it just was the heat was just too much and you can’t do it. You physically can’t do it, it’s impossible.
"You don’t see any other team doing that and there is a lot of lessons to be learnt from last year but if we are smart in how we play and do similar to here I suppose.
“We are not out of the tie at all we have every chance, we fully believe we can go over and score and hopefully keep it out the other end.”