Vinny Perth and Dundalk looking to end year on a high against Linfield
League of Ireland champions emerged from first leg at Windsor Park with a 1-1 draw
Dundalk welcome Linfield to Oriel Park on Monday following their 1-1 draw in Belfast. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho
Vinny Perth expects to have an unchanged squad for Monday night’s second leg of the Unite the Union Champions Cup against Linfield in Oriel Park. The League of Ireland champions, who draw the first leg 1-1 on Friday night, views the game as a second crack at a treble of sorts and an opportunity to finish what has already been a very good season on another high.
“I think they are really looking forward to it,” he says. “We feel now, the game is on the line and we can pick up another trophy; that’s what drives the lads.”
Daniel Kelly’s second half equaliser at Windsor Park means Dundalk are in a strong position going into the game but Linfield will clearly feel they are very firmly in it too, and after initial suggestions that David Healy might make changes, the northerner may well be tempted to stick with the sort of strong side that featured in the first leg.
Both clubs will be concerned to ensure that there is no trouble at the game and the Irish League side has sought to discourage supporters from travelling independently, much as Dundalk did with their own supporters last week.
Perth is critical of those fans who chanted about the IRA at the away game, insisting that while rivalries are a healthy part of football, there needs to be respect. “It shouldn’t have happened and we can only apologise on behalf of the club,” he says. “It’s not good enough. I grew up in the ’80s and saw the hassle; I thought we had moved beyond that.”
Perth acknowledges, meanwhile, that for a number of players, Monday’s game will be their last at Dundalk.
“We’re in a stage where we are obviously letting some players go, he says.
“We’ve got to freshen it up.” He has denied that either Robbie Benson or Jamie McGrath are definitely amongst those leaving but both are out of contract as things stand and have yet to sign new ones with Benson being linked to St Patrick’s Athletic.