AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport
Dundalk’s Sporting Director and current caretaker manager Jim Magilton today brushed off criticism surrounding the club’s failure to sign a third-choice goalkeeper after another week dominated by poor mistakes between the posts in a crucial league game. Peter Cherrie made major blunders for both of Longford Town’s goals at Bishopsgate in a 2-2 draw on Bank Holiday Monday with the former Derry City shot-stopper stepping in for Albanian Alessio Abibbi in recent matches due to a number of high-profile errors made by the new Dundalk goalkeeper.
Despite adding to other areas of the squad quite recently with the likes of South Korean winger Han and Central African Republic international Wilfried Zahibo arriving at Oriel Park Dundalk have left themselves in a situation where the management team must choose between two out of form and clearly low on confidence goalkeepers with now established alternative to consider. However, former Northern Irish international Magilton does not believe the club made a mistake by failing to strengthen in this area.
“We don’t have a third choice goalkeeper in the camp because we just don’t have one at the minute and that’s it” declared Magilton who is celebrating his fifty-second birthday today. When pushed if the lack of an established third choice was a recruitment or strategy error on the club’s behalf Magilton simply replied “no.”
When you consider Dundalk’s opponents last Monday Longford Town opted to recruit an established third-choice goalkeeper upon their return to the Premier Division this season, a goalkeeper in Mick Kelly who has for now at least wrestled control of the number one jersey away from last season’s first choice Lee Steacy, it seems strange a club who reportedly has one of the largest wage bills ever put together in the history of Irish football now find themselves in a position where whoever is in the dugout is left to select from two out of form ‘keepers. When this very point was put to Magilton he responded:
“So I believe (in regards to Mick Kelly) and he done great but we don’t have one (a third choice).”
As for the game itself against Longford, Dundalk can take positives from the fact they battled back from being two goals down in such disastrous circumstances inside the opening quarter of the game to battle back and claim an important point which extended the unbeaten run to five. Magilton did admit though given the start his side made in the Midlands on Monday that the hosts probably did let Dundalk off the hook.
“They (Longford) probably did (let us off the hook), when you go two goals up in a game you’d like to think you go on and win it but they didn’t, they showed courage and great organisation and a great work ethic and we had to match that and giving anyone a two-goal start is always difficult but we proved our metal and our character and we came out with a result, not the result we hoped for or anticipated but we got a result and again it showed a bit of fortitude and character to get that result.”
Despite taking pleasure from his side’s show of defiance and mental strength Magilton openly admitted it was not a result his team was proud of and that the draw in fact felt like a loss despite scoring late to steal a point away from the plucky promoted outfit.
“It felt like a loss and that’s a good thing feeling that because it should spur you on for the next game and there’s no better game than Sligo Rovers at home” declared Magilton.
With Sligo Rovers sitting six points clear of the County Louth club ahead of this weekend’s encounter at Oriel Park this opening match of the second series already has a big look to it for Dundalk if they are to keep in touch with the early pacesetters. Liam Buckley’s Sligo side may still feel hard done by to have not taken all three points against Dundalk in the opening game of the campaign as a tight offside call seemed to go against the hosts on that occasion so Friday’s latest meeting should be an interesting barometer as to how the two teams have progressed since. When asked if he felt Dundalk had developed positively as a team since or if progress was still slower than perhaps ideal Magilton pointed to the team’s recent unbeaten spell as positive progress.
“Well, we’re unbeaten in five so we have come on and as I said it’s not where we expected to be but it’s exactly where we are so the reality of this situation is we’ve got to stand up to a very confident Sligo Rovers who will come here hoping and maybe expecting to win so as I said there was doom and gloom around the result but it was pretty much buoyancy after two wins and this group of players have been used to success so they have to really find it within themselves now to step up to the plate because once they cross the white line it’s down to the players” concluded Magilton.
Finally, on the off-field matter of finding a new manager to take the reigns back off Jim Magilton, the club’s Sporting Director whose task it is to compile a shortlist of potential candidates for chairman Bill Hulsizer was giving little away when questioned on the latest status of the recruitment drive. Earlier today, it was being reported Linfield are preparing to offer manager David Healy a new contract in order to kill of any potential interest from Dundalk with the former Northern Irish striker insisting his only focus is adding more silverware to the Windsor Park trophy cabinet in the coming weeks.
Offering a short and sharp update on the search for a new Dundalk manager Jim Magilton commented:
“It’s in the process and it’s coming along nicely.”
As for team news ahead of the game against Sligo Rovers, Magilton revealed a major blow when speaking to local reporter Gerry Malone as the caretaker manager admitted David McMillan could be out of action for up to four weeks due to the hamstring issue sustained in the 3-0 win away to Waterford. Magilton’s woes are further compounded with the news Pat Hoban is also set to miss a number of games through injury while Faroe Island’s international Sonni Nattesstad will only resume training on Monday have presented back from international duty with an injury.
Midfielder Sam Stanton missed the game in Longford and will again be unavailable for Sligo while Darragh Leahy is not carrying any sort of knock confirmed Magilton after some supporters began to speculate following the full-backs lack of playing time recently.