Dundalk went down 2-1 at home to local rivals Drogheda United on Friday night but manager Sean McCaffrey expressed his delight at the performance. Speaking to extratime.ie after the match, McCaffrey felt his side's second half performance was outstanding but was frustrated with the two goals the Lilywhites gave away.
"Disappointed with the result but that's it. I thought we were average in the first half. We were trying to deal with their direct style but in the second half I thought we dominated the game. We created loads of chances but we got caught twice with poor concentration for their first and their second goals.
"There was a lot of positives. It was the first time this season that we've produced good form in Oriel Park."
McCaffrey proclaimed his side deserved to win the match but bemoaned the manner in which the second goal was conceded.
"We deserved something out of the game. In fairness to Gabriel Sava (Drogheda United goalkeeper), he pulled of some fantastic saves. I genuinely thought we deserved to win the game, but that's the way it goes.
"Paul Crowley made a thirty yard run from the middle of the park and he wasn't tracked and then when he got into the box he wasn't picked up so we had two chances to deal with Crowley going forward and we missed both of them so it's a lapse of concentration, it's frustrating."
McCaffrey admitted that Dundalk missed striker Michael Rafter but was full of praise for Mark Griffin and goal-scoring substitute Gary Shanahan.
"Griff was brilliant. Griff and Shane O'Neill were playing together for the first time and we missed Michael Rafter's ability to get the ball and hold up play. In the second half, the team got a bit more fluid and Griffin was outstanding. He did more of what we wanted him to do and was very unlucky not to score. O'Neill didn't have his best game tonight.
"Gary Shanahan gave us something when he came on, he was quick, he got in behind and he was exploiting space. There was some very good performances tonight."
The Lilywhites boss blasted the performance of the referee and feels that there is an agenda against Dundalk.
"I'm not moaning about the referee tonight but I thought he was poor. He was yellow card happy. Anything that was going that he wasn't sure about, he gave it to Drogheda. I have said this before and I will probably get into trouble for it but I genuinely think there is an anti-Dundalk sentiment with the referees in League of Ireland.
"You see us always on the wrong end of decisions. Time after time after time. Penalty decisions in Cork, we would have got a point. Another penalty decision at the start of the season against St. Pat's at the stage when it was 0-0, we went on to be destroyed and now we have lost Michael Rafter to a two match ban for doing nothing. It's an injustice. It's not right.
Dundalk are in financial difficulty at the moment and McCaffrey admitted the current situation with wages possibly not being paid over the break is a worry but was happy with the crowd for their support.
"It is a major worry for us about the wages. What can you do? Gerry Matthews is trying his best and the club are trying their best to make things work.
"I'll tell you what was good, there was a good crowd here. That'll help. The other thing which was brilliant was that they got behind the team and it made such a difference, especially in the second half. I think they have to take a lot of credit for the way we played in the second half. They applauded everything, they gave them great encouragement, if we get that every week, things are going to happen around here."
Going into the mid-season break, Dundalk sit second from bottom but McCaffrey is not worried and didn't expect to be much better off than they are but is confident of having a better second half to the season.
"I don't think there is a lot of work to be done. We're getting there. We are improving all the time. The performances are getting better and we are making progress. We have 12 points from 14. To be honest, I was only expecting 9 or 10 points from the first third of matches.
"I think in this next round of matches we will take a lot more points. The first thing we have to get right is the performance. Now we're getting that right, we can push on and have a better second period of the season. Hopefully if the finances get sorted out, it will help."