courtesy of RTE
Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth believes that his side’s Champions League qualifying triumph over Riga will go a long way to silencing the club’s doubters.
A dramatic night in Riga ended in jubilant scenes for Dundalk as Sean Hoare’s scored the winning sudden-death penalty to secure a showdown with Qarabeg in round two of the Champions League.
Hoare, who shook off the memories of Dundalk’s Europa League defeat to Larnaca last season, stepped up to fire home the penalty that decided the tie after a fine performance in the heart of the Dundalk defence.
For Perth the win was a vindication of everything that Dundalk have worked towards this season, despite some dissenting voices earlier in the campaign.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, the Dundalk coach said: “We’ve experienced this before, maybe not a penalty shoot-out, but these nights are light that.
“We showed what they [Riga] were like over the two legs, a very difficult side, so there’s a massive relief and a massive amount of emotion there.
“I’ve probably kept it quiet but this management team had a lot of questions asked of us this year.
“It’s only one round but at the same time, we’re very proud of the players, we’ve done our homework and it’s paid off in the penalty shootout and Gary did his business right.
“We’re just very proud of the whole group and as I’ve said, people have questioned this group quite a lot and it’s a really good night for us.”
Perth paid tribute to Riga, who pushed Dundalk all the way, so much so that the sides could not be separated over 210 minutes of football.
“They’re a good, good side,” he said. “Latvian football hasn’t been the big pinnacle as people would see it over the last few years but they rebuilt their team, they signed four or five really good players since they drew us and they probably fancied their chances.
“In these games you’ve got to stand up. We probably missed a couple of chances at home and then we had to dig in tonight and our squad was again tested.
“We’ve had injury problems this year, that doesn’t excuse some of the things we did in the second-half, but you could see the strain on bodies and we’ll have to get them fixed for what is a difficult next tie.
“We practiced penalties and we spent a couple of hours today looking at where they go, we were watching penalties as far back as six years ago from some of their players. It’s alright to say it’s paid off but at the end of the day Gary had to do what he done.”