Ten man Dundalk rescued a 2-2 draw with Waterford United at in the first leg of the Airtricity League promotion/relegation playoff at Oriel Park following a late equaliser from Stephen McDonnell and speaking to extratime.ie after the match, interim manager Darius Kierans was understandably happy with the result but bemoaned the dismissal of Stephen Maher before offering praise to his battling Lilywhites for their performance in the remaining 55 minutes.
"You'll take that when you go down to 10 men. I thought at the beginning we had a lot of anxiousness in our play and we lacked a bit of composure. I thought we were getting on top and getting a grip on the game then Stephen (Maher) gets sent off. Stephen killed us. It's stupid what he's done. The boys have dug him out and kept us in the tie.
"The work rate, the effort and the commitment of the players, particularly when we were 2-1 down was fantastic. Waterford looked dangerous and we knew Sean Maguire was a very good player, he's difficult to mark but we looked as dangerous on the break as well."
Peter Cherrie once again was outstanding between the sticks for Dundalk, at times keeping the Lilywhites in the tie single handedly, but Kierans knew his 'keeper had to be at his best without their full compliment and is hopeful that Friday with a change in circumstances can bring a change in fortune for the side.
"Peter (Cherrie) has made a few good saves but you're going to need that when you're down to 10 men. They're going to get shots on goal. I thought John Mountney was excellent. I thought the boys give us everything though. We're still there. I think hopefully we can get one or two bodies in and go 11 v 11 on a bigger pitch down there might suit us better."
Indeed the former Drogheda United boss feels his side deserve enormous credit for maintaining parity after playing so long with 10 men and is hopeful of taking advantage of the Blues less than impressive record at home on Friday evening.
"I think we deserve credit. We played 55 minutes with 10 men and came out even. It's a good performance and a good night's work.
"Waterford's away record is much better than their home record - they haven't won at home in six games so they have to come out and play. Credit to them though they came out and tried to play the game so they deserve a lot of credit."
While the 33 year-old has no complaints about the sending off, he blasted referee Paul McLaughlin for his performance and felt the standard on display throughout wasn't good enough.
"The sending off ruined the game though. I thought the referee was poor. He was poor all night. He was up for Referee of the Year. We're at the bottom of the table and we haven't got a penalty in 30 league games. I will never complain about them, because I actually thought they've been quite good this year but tonight Paul(McLaughlin) was poor and it's not good enough, for me."
Dundalk were dealt a hammer blow early on when Liam Burns went off injured. Already with Derek Foran out, they had to reshuffle at the back. Kierans knows it's not easy to slot players in different positions but is happy that they still have a chance in the second leg.
"Two soft goals but Liam Burns went out of there earlier on and we were missing Derek Foran. I thought Chris Shields done pretty well there tonight. Paul Whelan has come in but it's not easy. We'll look at the DVD and we'll analyse it but the bottom line is we still have a chance in Waterford."