Man of match hails fighting spirit
DROGHEDA United forward Gareth McCaffrey hailed his teammates for their never-say-die attitude after shrugging off a late hammer blow by snatching a winner when down to 10 men against Shamrock Rovers.
McCaffrey, the Drogheda Independent Man of the Match, felt the thrilling comeback in last November’s play-off decider against Wexford Youths stood to the Boynesiders as they ended a worrying run of six straight defeats.
Reflecting on Friday night’s dramatic events, McCaffrey said: ‘Our experience from promotion last year when we were two goals down coming into the second leg and ended up winning, this squad has a great belief in comebacks and never giving up until the final whistle, so we’re all delighted in the dressing room.
‘Any loss, whether it be one or two, can affect confidence and the fact that we’d lost six in a row was difficult to take, and we knew we had to put that right.
‘If we didn’t the table would have looked a bit different and we wouldn’t be going home as happy as we are.’
The fact that McCaffrey was facing his former club for the first time only served to make the victory feel even more special.
‘Whenever you go back and play against your old club it’s one of the fixtures that you’re keen on and you’re a little bit more raring to go,’ he said.
‘Going into the game we knew that we had a chance, especially playing at home with a big crowd, we prepared really well for the game and obviously it’s really sweet to get the three points.’
Perhaps McCaffrey might have been slightly less generous in analysing referee Robert Rogers’ performance had the result been different, but he insisted he had sympathy for the official.
‘It was fun and games alright,’ he responded.
‘To be honest, both penos could have gone either way – maybe they were, maybe they weren’t – and I think the referee maybe evened it up.
‘It did look like a very difficult decision and as we all know, referees have a very difficult time. They can’t watch it back on Soccer Republic like the rest of us can, so we understand they have a very difficult job.
‘At the end of the day, we’ve won 2-1 and got the three points against a good Shamrock Rovers team, so we’re delighted.’
And McCaffrey paid tribute to his strike partner Mark Doyle – a surprise selection - for his huge contribution to Drogheda’s victory.
‘To be fair to Doyler, we’ve said it to him in the dressing-room. It’s his full debut and I know I got Man of the Match, but it must have been very touch and go for him getting it because he was absolutely fantastic.
‘He worked from the minute go. He is not big but he uses his body really well physically, running in behind, getting at people, which is exactly what you want for a young player coming in.
‘He’s got his chance and he’s took it, so fair play to him.’
Attention now turns to Saturday’s return to Markets Field where Drogheda have had some great tussles with Limerick in the past couple of years.
The board have set some lofty targets for this year, too big it seems for Martin Russell who controversially lost his job as manager of the Shannonsiders last week.
McCaffrey felt the disruption might play into Drogheda’s hands, although he was speaking before word filtered through that Limerick had won 2-0 at St Pat’s.
‘I was really surprised [that Martin Russell had gone],’ admitted McCaffrey.
‘I was down in Limerick recently for the day with my own job and had a chat with the lads. Everything seemed fine and they seemed very happy.
‘It’s a strange decision, so if you were to pick a time to play against them it might be now.
‘They are going to be a little bit uneven and a little bit off in terms of not having a settled manager at the moment, so that might play into our hands.
‘But look, we’re going to have to prepare like we did for every other game. Hopefully, if we go out and work like we did against Rovers, we can get another three points.’