O’Donnell: “Narrative” around high line has “taken legs.”

Dundalk FC Head Coach Stephen O’Donnell feels a narrative has formed and “taken legs” in regards to the ongoing discussion about his team’s high defensive line. The Lilywhites defence was carved up with remarkable ease last night by a UCD side who went into the game lying bottom of the Premier Division standings. A double from Thomas Lonergan and another goal from rising Students star Dylan Duffy saw UCD pull off a remarkable 3-2 victory despite twice trailing in the game.

After the game, Stephen O’Donnell fielded questions from BetweenTheStripes.net reporter Kieran Burke about his apparent insistance in playing a high defensive line despite an evident lack of pace across the back four. O’Donnell felt this was not the reason for Dundalk’s defeat on the night.

“The goals (conceded) today weren’t the high line, we were in possession. See this is very sort of, it’s kind of a narrative now that’s taken on legs. The goals we’ve conceded we had the ball, so in order to be a compact team, unless you don’t have a high line when you have possession that means your centre-halves are on the 18-yard box and the whole pitch is stretched. So if you have the ball of course they’re (the centre-backs) going to be backed up and if we give the ball away cheaply then you’re going to be exposed in dangerous areas and that’s what we’ve done”, explained the former Dundalk FC Captain.

Asked by Kieran Burke if he felt opposition teams were exploiting the lack of pace in Dundalk’s defensive areas O’Donnell responded:

“No, I think if you watch the goals back it’s us turning the ball over, look it’s a narrative now that’s taken legs, I think we’ve thirteen or fourteen clean sheets in the league and we’ve played the same way throughout the season, we haven’t changed one iota since the first game of the season to now in regards to instruction and the way we want to play so I just think it’s probably grown a little bit of legs. Am I here saying we look totally watertight and secure? No, I’m not, it’s something we’re going to have to have a look at and review but everyone is saying this high line but the goals here…..We had the ball”, remarked O’Donnell.

It’s not only in defence that Dundalk are struggling at present and despite scoring twice on Friday night, it was again evident the void Patrick Hoban has left in attack with the Galway man currently on the treatment table. O’Donnell gave the following update on his star striker after the UCD defeat.

“He’s still out so we’ll continue to assess him and Daniel Kelly and see where we are over the coming week.


To hear the full interview with Stephen O’Donnell as well as a post-match chat with UCD midfielder Sean Brennan and access to an exclusive match write up, join the Between the Stripes Members Club here.

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