Man of match hails fight­ing spirit

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT -

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.’

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