Kilduff: We won't be a soft touch
Dundalk ready for new challenge
Dundalk striker Ciaran Kilduff believes that a win over rivals Shamrock Rovers on the opening night of the new league season is a statement of intent from the champions.
The loss of key players like Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle has, for many observers, reduced the likelihood of Dundalk winning the title for a fourth successive season and Rovers are one of the clubs expected to put up a challenge for Stephen Kenny's side.
Former Rovers player Kilduff, scorer of Dundalk's second goal in Friday's 2-1 win at home to Rovers in front of a crowd of 4,746, admits that his side can play better but in terms of meekly handing over their title, there is no debate.
"Cork turning us over in the Presidents' Cup last week was a statement from them so us beating Rovers on Friday was a big statement from us," Kilduff told The Herald.
"We had pressure on us after losing to Cork, we didn't want to start off the league season with a defeat.
"Rovers are coming out making statements about what they want to do this season and fair play to them, they will probably have a good year.
"But we won't be a soft touch for anyone this season, we have come from winning three in a row, we still have a great squad with some unbelievably talented players."
Dundalk appeared to be in control with goals from Robbie Benson and Kilduff but a strike from Graham Burke got Rovers back into the game and an injury-time effort from Sean Boyd almost earned them a draw.
"At 2-0 we could have kicked on and won by more but we seemed to stop playing, we made a few errors, Rovers got a goal and it turned into a tough final few minutes, we made it hard for ourselves," says Kilduff.
"When we were 2-0 up so early in the game, you'd expect us to go and win 4-0 and the final half-hour was poor from us on Friday."
Next up for Dundalk is a trip to face a Sligo Rovers side who had a miserable 5-1 loss to Limerick on Friday.