Friday night’s match in the Showgrounds kicks off at 7.45 pm. Some away tickets remain on sale. The match will be streamed on LOITV

It’s been two weeks since that second disappointing 2-1 Inchicore defeat of the season to Pats. Did you see similarities in both defeats or were there separate aspects in both games that ultimately cost us those six points?

“Both games are similar in terms of we were 1-0 up at half time and playing well. Second half, we were poor in both games, but there are different reasons for both. The recent defeat when you lose Josh Honohan and Lee Grace it really reshapes the  team. Then we brought in young Cory O’Sullivan who hasn’t been in since Drogheda as he was sitting his Leaving Cert. So we had players playing out of position everywhere which didn’t help, but we’re still disappointed to lose the game and the manner of the goals, especially the first one.”

It would be easy to think this is an increasingly cursed season as during that Pat’s game, Josh seemed to feel unwell following his previous concussion, and both Lee and Neil hobbled off. Have you ever known a season like it in your career, playing and managing?

“No, it feels like you’re getting bodies back then something else happens against Pats. The positive thing is we’ve had the injuries, but we are getting them back. Tomorrow, for Sligo, we’ll have a few back ,then at training on Monday we’ll have the majority back. For the Dundalk game, I think we’ll have everyone bar one back which is really good. It’ll be the first time in a long time we’ll have had that. We are getting there, but I’ve never seen anything like it in my career, it has definitely been a challenge for the group. But so is life, so is football, we come up against challenges. Not everything is plain sailing, you deal with them the best you can and face them head on. To be fair, that’s what we’re trying to do and that’s what we’ll continue to do. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, we’re getting bodies back and by next week, bar one, we should have all back.”

We’ve fifteen league games to go, still a lot of football and points. It would take an outstanding run of form in those games to retain the title, so does this season prove just how difficult winning titles is, especially trying to win five in a row?

“Winning is not easy. When you’ve been successful as these players have been for a number of years, some people can become complacent or slightly arrogant with it. We know in here how hard it is to win, it’s difficult to win. Can we still win this year? I’ve no doubt in my mind that we can. I believe what this group has, what they are, so there’s no doubt we can win. But winning is extremely difficult and just because players have made it easy for so long, trust me it’s not easy. But there’s no doubt in my mind that we can still win the league this year.”

Our Champions League opponents are now known, Vikingur Reykjavik with the first leg away. What’s your reaction to that draw? Could it have been better or worse or are you ok with it, and have you any insight into them yet?

“There’s no doubt it’s a tough draw. We’ll look after it when it comes around. I’ve been over to watch them, they’re a good team as you’d expect the Icelandic champions to be. We saw Breidablik last year, they were a good team, this team is similar, so it’s a tough draw. But we’ll be in a better place with bodies and I’ve no doubt we’ve enough to get through the tie.”

We travel to Sligo tomorrow. We’ve drawn 0-0 there last time, and beat them well in Tallaght. They’ve beaten Shelbourne recently at Tolka so they’re a dangerous team despite their 7th position.

“Yes they are. When you look at Sligo’s attributes and what they have, on their day they can beat anyone. We had a difficult game last time in Sligo and tomorrow will be no different. But I think the players are in a good place, they’ve had a little break in terms of a mental switch-off over the break and they’ve come back in a good place. We’ll go there fully focussed to win three points.”

Has the break enabled a few players to come back into contention and who’s unavailable for Sligo?

“Lee Grace, Neil Farrugia, Darragh Burns, Dan Cleary, Seán Kavanagh and Rory Gaffney are out. But they’re all just there and should be training on Sunday/Monday. Josh Honohan is back, he had a reoccurrence of the concussion which is supposedly quite common. Leon Pohls, Gary O’Neill, Aaron McEneff and Seán Hoare are all back so we are getting there.”