Stephen Kenny confident Dundalk will take historic win in stride
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has urged his players to drive on from the club's first Europa League win and make this a special season.
Kenny praised his side as they followed up their draw with AZ Alkmaar by beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0, but warned they were not clinical enough in front of goal despite a raft of chances.
"I think it was just a great effort by the players," he said. "Tactically the players were very astute on the night. Even though Maccabi had a fair degree of possession I thought we passed the ball brilliantly and we had a lot of chances on the night and thoroughly deserved the win."
Dundalk's hero at AZ, Ciaran Kilduff, came off the bench to mark his 28th birthday with a well-timed finish to make it two in two and earn victory.
Kenny bemoaned the difficult run of five games facing the club before they clash with table-toppers Zenit St. Petersburg.
But he heaped praise on the dynamism the players showed and picked out Chris Shiels, deputising for the suspended Stephen O'Donnell, and the back four.
"It was a great victory. The players were very, very disciplined, very creative, and the accuracy of their passing, very courageous in possession and I thought they were absolutely excellent," he said.
"Chris Shiels in that midfield position was really influential in the game.
"Maccabi have really good players in midfield. I thought everyone really did their jobs exceptionally well tonight and it culminated in a big win for us and a very impressive performance overall."
The win by a team of semi-professionals against a side with more European experience will go down in Irish footballing history but Kenny said minds were already turning to the club's next match and preparations for the rest of the group.
"It's a great victory tonight," he said. "It's amazing to have it and you have to enjoy these things in life, I do understand that, but you want it to be an incredible, special season and maybe then get we will somewhat euphoric.
"We are not surprised here to win. There's not an incredible euphoric feeling in the dressing room now. There's one of fellas taking it in their stride and saying yes, that's a good victory, but we're not surprised by it.
"We had to adapt our own shape to combat Maccabi's shape, for certain. We had to adapt but we have to do that in European games because every game is different.
"You can talk about tactics all you want but ultimately football is about players. We asked them to do specific jobs but they did more than that, they expressed themselves brilliantly tonight and we are so confident and our attacking play was dynamic.
"Every time we got into the final third we created a chance, just we weren't clinical enough in front of goal."
Kenny would not speculate on the future of exciting winger Daryl Horgan, who created Kilduff's winner, and whether he would be around if Dundalk make it into next year's knockout stages.