Dundalk are one of the few sides in the Premier Division that look unstoppable once they begin to build up a head of steam, something which was illustrated last season and has continued to great effect this year, once again.
The word ruthless and Dundalk have now become so intertwined that giving the Louthmen even a slim chance of opening up a lead will be punished heavily.
Although they have drawn with Limerick this month, and only beat Drogheda and Shelbourne by one goal in their last two games, the Lilywhites’ string of results in March, in which they scored eleven goals and conceded none, in five league games, shows just how unforgiving they are.
Despite Limerick putting a stop to their 100% record this year, it is – at this moment in time – difficult to envisage Stephen Kenny’s men losing to anyone, albeit with big games ahead this month.
Here we discuss three reasons as to why the men from Louth have been so devastating again this year.
3. Being Written Off
At the beginning of this season, journalists, fans and causal spectators in some quarters were writing Dundalk off as capable of retaining their title.
This may yet be the case with just seven games played, however this kind of attitude towards the Lilywhites now looks be quite an effective motivational tool in the Dundalk dressing room.
Speaking at the launch of the league a couple of months ago, captain Stephen O’Donnell mentioned how he may use the fact that the Lilywhites were not being seen as title contenders, by some, as a motivational factor.
This psychological upper hand now appears to be driving Dundalk on, and even at this early stage they are grinding out results in the manner of champions.
2. Ability To Turn Defence Into Attack With Ease
The fantastic movement of Dundalk’s midfield players makes them extremely difficult to defend against.
Once an opposing side does go on the attack, they immediately become vulnerable to Dundalk’s instantaneous and devastating forays forward.
David McMillan’s goal against Sligo last month, which was nominated for the March Goal Of The Month award on Soccer Republic, is a perfect example of how Stephen Kenny’s side move the ball quicker than any other team in the league.
This move took just two pinpoint passes before the ball was in the back of the net. If the Lilywhites can keep doing this, there won’t be many sides capable of stopping them.
1. The Manager
Stephen Kenny proved before he had even joined Dundalk that he was a brilliant tactician and man-manager but he has now found a group of players who perfectly fit into the way he wants his side to play.
Of course a huge amount of credit must go to those players, however it is Kenny who has galvanised this squad and turned it into an unbeatable force so far this year.
What will be worrying for the rest of the sides in the league is the amount of confidence Kenny’s squad has, helped by the guidance provided from the boss.
At the back they are resolute and rarely concede goals. In midfield they have some of the league’s most talented players such as Richie Towell and Daryl Horgan, who at times certainly look a step above SSE Airtricity League level.
Up front, despite concerns before the beginning of the season due to the departure of Pat Hoban, David McMillan has fabulously stepped up to the plate, even earning March’s SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month award, as well as scoring four goals in seven league outings.
Kenny’s direction, combined with the talent available at the club makes Dundalk an unstoppable force. The Lilywhites’ incredible form, under Kenny’s guidance, shows no signs of abating.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena