There was a big fundraiser in Dundalk on Tuesday night as the Lilywhites took on a Chelsea XI at Oriel Park in front of a nearly 4,000 strong crowd. Dundalk succumbed to a late goal and were beaten 1-0 by their English opponents, however speaking to Extratime.ie, interim manager Darius Kierans was pleased with the effort of his players and their performance.
"It was a great work out. I thought we played reasonably well. We kept a good shape and a good discipline about us as well and we looked dangerous on the break. Chelsea though, are technically better than us. Every one of them comfortable on the ball, their movement at times was unbelievable but it was great for our players to be tested against players like that."
After conceding that the visitors were much better technically than his young Lilywhites, Kierans did think that they had the better chances and praised the performance of his captain, Chris Shields.
"I think we did have the better chances. In the final third though I think we were just a little bit panicky but I was delighted with the organisation of the players and how we played. The result wasn't overly important but we played very well.
"I thought Chris Shields was immense in midfield. He broke up the play well and gave everything. We could have kept the ball a little better and our final ball let us down at times as well but it was a great test and enjoyable."
With Dundalk not playing this Friday night and no game until Monday, the Drogheda native felt that this match was ideal for timing and will give his players some rest now before they begin preparation for St. Patrick's Athletic.
"The game worked out perfectly I must say with us having no game on Friday. It was good to get a match against a team of that quality instead of just training all week. I am delighted with it but it was vital we got some match time in with six days off.
"It's a good opportunity to give our players a rest and give them a few days off before St. Pat's on Monday. They've been working extremely hard and they deserve it."
The former Drogheda boss feels his side are improving after recent results and spoke of his new signings and also admitted that the Lilywhites need a win.
"I think we're improving. I think the couple of players we've brought in Lorcan (Shannon), Mark (O'Brien), Paul (Whelan) I think they've added to us. They've added to our strengths and give us good options. You have Robbie Gaul , William Woods and Philly McCabe to come in as well.
"For me, I think we have a stronger squad than we had. It's going to be a difficult game definitely, but one I think we can win. We need to get a win. We came so close to it in Bray but we will get it soon I'm sure of it."
With players coming in, Dundalk are on the brink of losing one of their best players of the season. 17 year-old Ben McLaughlin is close to tying up a move to Everton. Kierans paid tribute to the youngster and also praised the people who have made this happen, his former coaches at schoolboy level, coaches at Dundalk and his family.
"As a kid, Ben's been excellent. He's really excelled at first-team level this year. The work that has been done with Ben by Martin Connolly, Mick Neville, his clubs Glenmuir and Quay Celtic you can see the reward now. We're going to miss him. The players love him, he's been a revelation on and off the pitch.
"The discipline and character in the young lad is a testament to him. His mam and dad deserve a lot of credit and of course Jim. He's a cracking player, he's top notch and I think he'll develop massively over even a six month period in England because he is willing to work hard. Everyone at the club is delighted for him, he has a real chance of making it."
Dundalk have been frustrated in their efforts to re-sign Stephen Maher and Kierans is still hopeful the transfer can be done but it may be subject to a protracted takeover of the club which the Drogheda man admits he knows very little about at the moment.
"I don't want to just comment on that at the minute. It is very close to happening. Stephen wants to get it done, as do we. If the takeover happens, then it will happen and we can move on from there.
"I know they are in talks at the minute, we will see where it goes, but at the moment I know exactly with you know. Hopefully something can happen but we will continue preparing for football matches and it won't distract us. We have a job to do and we are going to do it."