You’ve had a week to reflect on the 4-0 defeat away to Ferencvaros, are you still rueful about the goals we conceded and the result?
“Yeah, I think we started the game really well, if you had asked us how we wanted to start, it would have been those first 15 minutes. We had two really good opportunities to take the lead before they threatened us, but then we make a mistake that’s very unlike Alan and you just have to accept that. Alan is human and can make a mistake and straight away that put Ferencvaros on the front foot. You could feel it in the ground, their tension in the first 15 minutes, how nervous they were, and I think if we score the first goal it becomes a different game. The first two goals we gave away are really poor.”
For that first goal, Barry Murphy on LOITV co-comms suggested maybe some sunlight had affected Alan’s view, was that something Alan mentioned?
“No, Alan didn’t look for any sort of excuse, whether it was the sun I’m not sure, he just said it was one of those things. It was probably too easy and sometimes when it becomes too easy you take your eye off it and unfortunately for a goalkeeper if you do that it usually ends up in the net. Alan has saved us on so many occasions throughout the years, so we have to accept it was just one of those things.”
After bringing Alan back after injury for the Cup game in Dundalk, was it a tough decision to retain him given how well Leon Pohls has played in Alan’s injury spell?
“Yes it was. We’re trying to get Alan back up to speed but Leon has been very good and has shown everyone how ready he is. Leon has come in and really stepped up, but I think it was important to get Alan back playing. We haven’t got many games left, so it was important to get him in. It’s always nice when you have two top keepers ready to play.”
Despite the first leg result, there were positives; Liam Burt looked very sharp after his injury-ravaged season so far, Johnny Kenny was impressive up top and there were more minutes at the top level for young Naj Razi.
“There were lots of positives. I know the result puts a dampener on it obviously, but Liam was brilliant, he’s had a tough season with the injury he came in with, and we’ve been trying to get it right all year. I think he showed in the first leg what he’s going to bring to us, something different in the final third which we want and need. Johnny was excellent, we forget how young he still is, leading the line for the best team in the country isn’t easy and you can see every week Johnny’s getting better and better. It was great to again get Naj on the pitch, give him a taste of the sort of games that we hope he, Conan Noonan, Kieran Cruise and Darragh Nugent are going to play a big part in the future for this club. So, it was important for Naj to experience and feel it and I thought he did well which is no surprise when you see the kid and hopefully, that’s the first of many.”
What’s been the mood among the squad since the first leg? Are they keen to show Ferencvaros they’re a decent team also?
“They’ve been fine, they’re obviously disappointed after the game, we don’t like getting beaten, especially that scoreline which never normally happens us. We’re experienced enough to know, and we seen it last season, when you play at that level, any sort of mistake against top level players of quality, with Ferencvaros ambition to make the Champions League group stage, you’re going to get punished. The first two goals set up their performance and having watched the game back, I firmly believe if we take an early chance, it becomes a totally different game as you could feel the nerves and tension around the stadium.”
How do you approach the second leg? Do you go all out to reduce the deficit or with a crucial return to League action three days later, do you just play the Ferencvaros game as it evolves?
“We have to be careful. We obviously have to think of the Cork game on Sunday. I think to feel we can turn the tie around is unrealistic, Ferencvaros will get opportunities during the game. But we will absolutely try and win the game, there’s no doubt we’ll try. Can we win the tie? Hand on heart I don’t think so, but we’ll definitely try and win the second leg and hopefully come out of it with no injuries and focus on Sunday which is a really important league game.”
Are any of our current injured players due back for the Ferencvaros game or any suspensions?
“Unfortunately nobody is back yet. Trevor Clarke, Jack Byrne, Neil Farrugia, Darragh Nugent and Rory Gaffney all remain unavailable. We’re hoping we’ll get a couple back for Sunday, if not it’ll be another week. Lee Grace took a bad knock in the first leg so we will check on Lee today, but we have no suspensions.”