"Hoban will be one of the all-time greats" - Dundalk Head Coach Perth

15th November 2023

As the minute struck 90 on the scoreboard in Oriel Park, some of the regular crowd had begun to make their way back to their cars and home to dissect the missed chances and rue the missed opportunities that took place over the course of the game.  V

As the minute struck 90 on the scoreboard in Oriel Park, some of the regular crowd had begun to make their way back to their cars and home to dissect the missed chances and rue the missed opportunities that took place over the course of the game.  Vinny Perth and his players continued to battle on as spectators headed for the exit, one wonders did many of them turned on a six-pence when the roar of a plea for the penalty was given.  What was, a minute before, deemed a frustrating night in Oriel, turned into one of pure elation. As the ball nestled in the back of the net from Hoban’s calmly-taken penalty, you could almost reach out and grab the emotion as the tension evaporated from Oriel, something not lost on Head Coach Vinny Perth.  “When we scored I was probably a little bit emotional and drained, it took the energy out of me for want of a better word. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and I suppose this season has been difficult because every time I look we are training with 10, 11 or 13 players and it hasn’t fixed itself quickly and its not there yet." Vinny is fully aware of the frustrations this season has been already as we approach ten games in, it has weighed heavily on the man who in some respects faces fans with ambitious expectations. It hasn’t been the ideal start with key injuries and the overall game plan not going as intended, but Perth feels the same as supporters, it hurts him. “I probably hurt more than anyone else, I may not be from Dundalk but once I come into a club my whole DNA is Dundalk and I care about them and that’s the same as Sacred Heart, Malahide United. "That’s the way I live so, I'm probably hurting more than anyone else believe it or not, but at the same time I’m very proud of the group of players we have and people might write them off a little too early but tonight is a small block of the rebuilding that needs to be done.  "It’s a difficult job and we are going to have a few difficult nights over the couple of weeks and if we can stay in where we want to be, I think we can kick on in seven or eight games time when the players come back fit we can kick on and ready to go." The crowd were lifted by the return of key players Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields which was both welcoming and needed for a side struggling to get that ‘Dundalk’ spark back in it's game.  But as the Head Coach explained, while both are welcome it comes at a time when he intends on using players in key positions to keep opposition managers guessing.  “To be perfectly honest both of them struggle when they came on and they both look like they need a bit of football but the stature of the two of them onto the pitch made us look like a bit more like ‘Dundalk’ and I have to be careful because I am not trying to be disrespectful. "I thought Flores and McKee are two outstanding footballers but the difference is McKee can play with McEleney, Flores can play with Shields, Murray can play with Benson and I thought ‘this is the best squad we ever had’.  "I haven’t been able to change the team one night and say ‘tonight we are going to go with Shields and Flores and give Benson a rest’ and Benson comes in the following week and we haven’t had that luxury. "There is a lot of work to do. The players will come in tomorrow and we are all in this together and will analyse this. The work rate has been outstanding, they let themselves down on Friday, myself included, against Sligo but you write this team and group of players off at your peril.  "They are going to have a couple of more difficult nights but they will be ready to go when the time comes.” Good Friday in 2014 was not good by any accounts in the minds of Dundalk fans, a draw against Shamrock Rovers and an injury to captain Stephen O’Donnell left the mood in Oriel very low indeed, the following week in a balmy Athlone, Dundalk nabbed an injury-time penalty thanks to Richie Towell to spark Dundalk’s title challenge in gear, could history repeat itself? “When you have twenty-five players signed at the club and you train with twelve or thirteen you know there is something wrong, its not muscular bar the odd one so it’s just bad luck but I’m not going to make any excuses we are where we are and we should be higher up the table. "The difference tonight is we should have got a penalty against Shamrock Rovers in the 90th minute and tonight we got one, little moments changed leagues and I have always said that we are going to dig in over the next few weeks and we need the supporters behind us.” And what of the man that turned a night of tension to a night of elation? Vinny Perth chose Patrick Hoban has his vice-captain and stuck to his convictions as to why the man from Loughrea was the correct decision.  “I think Pat has been outstanding for us this season, he has led the line and he has shown a lot of leadership. Off the pitch he has been outstanding, he is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve.  "Yes its another penalty but he led the line for us tonight he was a real warrior, he was probably our best player in Sligo the only player who played really well and Pat has shown the form and his goal record for the club has been phenomenal and its about time other people have noticed that as well.  “He will go down as one of the all-time greats in this club and this is such a famous club and I have said that to him at the start of the season this is your opportunity to go down as a Dundalk legend, I think it's his eightieth goal in a hundred and thirty or hundred and thirty-one games that’s phenomenal there has people been capped with less so I think he is in a good place.” If anyone doubted this Dundalk side or Perth will rue the day, just like the fans who would have heard the roar of Oriel in the distance when they opened the car doors. At their peril.