Stephen Kenny’s feet firmly on the ground following historic Tallaght victory

His team had just made history in the town where he grew up. With a 1-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv they became the first Irish side to ever win a Europa League game.

Dundalk had battled hard for their deserved victory and now have a real chance of advancing to the knock out stages of the competiton.

You would think Stephen Kenny would’ve been euphoric after experiencing a night like that.

Instead of grandstanding about the magnitude of his sides achievement he wished to make it perfectly clear that he wasn’t surprised by their win.

Before the game he said his players had no reason to be intimidated by the amount of international players among the Maccabi Tel Aviv ranks. How right he was.

Speaking to the press after the match he said:

“I think it was just a great effort by the players.

“Tactically the players were very astute on the night. Even though Maccabi had a fair degree of possession I thought we passed the ball brilliantly and we had a lot of chances on the night and thoroughly deserved the win.

 

“It was a great victory. The players were very, very disciplined, very creative, and the accuracy of their passing, very courageous in possession and I thought they were absolutely excellent,” he said.

“Chris Shields in that midfield position was really influential in the game.

“Maccabi have really good players in midfield. I thought everyone really did their jobs exceptionally well tonight and it culminated in a big win for us and a very impressive performance overall.”

“It’s a great victory tonight, it’s amazing to have it and you have to enjoy these things in life, I do understand that, but you want it to be an incredible, special season and maybe then get we will somewhat euphoric.

“We are not surprised here to win. There’s not an incredible euphoric feeling in the dressing room now. There’s one of fellas taking it in their stride and saying yes, that’s a good victory, but we’re not surprised by it.”

Ciaran Kilduff, celebrating his 28th birthday, came off the bench to score the games only goal with just under 20 minutes to go.

Since returning from a serious back injury last year, Kilduff is loving life in the Europa League and he followed up his historic last minute equaliser against AZ Alkmaar in the previous game with an even bigger goal last night.

Once again it was the highly impressive Daryl Horgan who was the Lilywhite’s most impressive attacking threat and when he put the ball on a plate for Kilduff the big striker was never going to miss.

Dundalk had to weather a bit of late pressure from the visitors but boss Kenny felt they managed the final quarter of the game very well. He said:

“We had to adapt our own shape to combat Maccabi’s shape, for certain. We had to adapt but we have to do that in European games because every game is different.

“You can talk about tactics all you want but ultimately football is about players. We asked them to do specific jobs but they did more than that, they expressed themselves brilliantly tonight and we are so confident and our attacking play was dynamic.

“Every time we got into the final third we created a chance, just we weren’t clinical enough in front of goal.”