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Friday 9 December 2016

Shels boss Kevin Doherty: Dundalk are a machine but we won't roll over

Kevin Doherty
Kevin Doherty
Stephen Kenny

LET'S keep it tight at the back, they will get frustrated the longer the game goes on without them scoring, and we can get something from the game.

A simple approach but one that often works for lower-league teams when they play top flight clubs in any cup tie.

But spare a thought for Shelbourne goalkeeper Greg Murray and his defenders as the Division One outfit prepare to face up to league champions and leaders Dundalk tonight in the FAI Cup.

The Lilywhites have scored in every one of their 16 competitive games this season and have scored three or more goals on six occasions - keeping it tight against this Dundalk side is very, very hard to do, so a trip north to face Dundalk on their home match is anything but a handy task.

"They are a machine," Shels manager Kevin Doherty says of the current Dundalk outfit.

"They are so impressive as a team - their physical fitness, the way they just kill off teams, they have every box ticked.

"When I get into the dressing room after our own game on a Friday night I check the scores from the other games but I don't even bother checking the Dundalk score as they just win every week no matter what.

"When you approach any game you look for weaknesses in the opposition. And it's very hard to find a weakness in this Dundalk side."

With that in mind, Doherty - at 35 the second-youngest manager in the league - could accept the inevitable and simply tell his players to go out and enjoy themselves tonight, but he's not keen to wave the white flag before a ball is kicked.

"You hear that all the time, 'go out and enjoy the occasion' but I know my players won't enjoy themselves if we get hammered up in Dundalk," says Doherty.

"We will set up as best we can. It's not as if we will have the ball for 90 minutes so we have to be ready for what do do when we don't have the ball, how to shape up against them."

The league, and the promotion race, remains the priority for Shels, who had a good start to their season (three wins and for clean sheets in the first four games of the year) but then dropped off with a six-game winless streak, only to bounce back with three straight wins in recent weeks.

The big names no longer on the books, Shels rely heavily on youth,and in the last year the Reds have sent Adam McDonnell and Dylan Connolly on their way to a career in England (Ipswich Town), while recent U19 caps Ryan Robinson and Colm Crowe are involved now.

"We have Evan Osam in the side now and he's only in fifth year in school," says Doherty. "When I had to call in keeper Eric Donnelly for a game away to Finn Harps last month I had to ring his principal so he could get off school."

Long-term, the club need to sort out their stadium issues and the proposed ground share with Bohemians (largely opposed by Reds fans) but short-term, it's about this Cup game.

"We were 18/1 when we played Dundalk in the League Cup last month, now we're 20/1, I think there's a message there but we'll see how the game goes."

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