Better late than never for Drogheda United
BETTER late than never, they say, and Drogheda United received long overdue recognition for their achievements this week when manager Mick Cooke and two of his players were named in the MNS team and manager of the year.
The Boynesiders were completely overlooked by their fellow players when the PFAI Team of 2012 was announced at the end of the season, but RTE 2's flagship domestic soccer programme softened that blow on Monday night when Cooke was named as their Manager of the Year and Declan O'Brien and Gabriel Sava were included in their star XI.
Reacting to the news on Tuesday, Cooke said: 'I taped the programme and watched it late, but a couple of my friends had text me and I thought they were taking the p***.
'The 12 guys on the MNS panel picked the team and gave myself recognition as well and it means a lot because it's such a distinguished group of people, and I'm chuffed to get it.
'It's deserved recognition for 'Fabio' and Gabriel as well because both of them have had incredible seasons, and you could have fought for Derek Prendergast and Gavin Brennan to be included too. Gavin missed a lot of games, but so did Stephen McLaughlin [the player picked in his position].'
Cooke said he might raise the idea of the MNS XI playing champions Sligo Rovers in a friendly with none other than FAI chief John Delaney, who will be a guest at the Drogheda United Player of the Year Awards in the D Hotel this Friday evening.
'I think there should be something with the Team of the Year - maybe play Sligo Rovers for charity - and I might suggest it to [their manager] Ian Baraclough as well.'
The Drogheda manager was due to meet with six of his players on Tuesday afternoon and evening to discuss new contracts, and said that twoyear deals would be available in some cases as the Boynesiders look to create some stability in the squad. Talks are being held on Wednesday with the more senior players such as O'Brien, Paul Crowley and Alan McNally.
Cooke expressed frustration, though, that player registration forms for 2013 are not available to clubs until December 1st, meaning that he could agree terms this week with a player who would then be free to sign for someone else in three weeks' time.
Meanwhile, Cooke expressed his delight that neighbours Dundalk would be plying their trade in the top flight following victory in the Promotion/Relegation Play-off last Friday night.
'I'm glad about Dundalk,' he said. 'It would not be nice to lose our neighbours. We were up there last Tuesday night for the first leg of their play-off and at half-time their chairman came over and congratulated us on our achievements, and I would like to think that we would do the same.'