Friday 22 September 2017

Dundalk can cope with departure of star trio, vows Rogers

Gary Rogers believes Dundalk can win their fourth consecutive league title Picture: Sportsfile
Gary Rogers believes Dundalk can win their fourth consecutive league title Picture: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Given Dundalk's success last season, the festive period was always likely to be a tricky affair as contract negotiations ramp up and Stephen Kenny goes about ensuring that his team remain the one to beat next year.

Ronan Finn's shock departure has thrown a spanner in the works however, particularly on the back of Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan moving to Preston.

Kenny is now sitting less comfortably than he might have expected to have been as discussions continue with captain Stephen O'Donnell, David McMillan and John Mountney but he will be relieved that Sean Gannon extended his stay last night.

Gary Rogers admitted that the players were "shocked" when they heard that Finn was rejoining Shamrock Rovers but certainly from Rogers' point of view, he can understand the midfielder's reasons for the leaving the champions.

Dundalk's veteran goalkeeper signed a contract extension last month and while he has since seen three crucial players depart, Rogers is adamant that the Lilywhites will be strong enough to win their fourth league title in a row.

"Big players have left every year and we have still managed to maintain a title-winning team," Rogers insisted.

"A lot of people will probably speculate that other teams will be stronger but you have to wait and see what happens with players brought into the squad.

"But the players that are still there, we have a very strong squad and there is no doubt about it, we will be competing to try and win the league.

"You see the way people react to things but you get a player in and people say, 'Oh, look how strong Dundalk look again'. There is a long way to go before the start of the season, well, maybe not that long but there is time for recruitment.

"Stephen's (Kenny) recruitment has been excellent throughout his career, not only at Dundalk so I'd be very confident that he will bring in the right players for the club and the group and that we'll be very strong again next season."

Dundalk's European campaign that led them to within touching distance of the knockout stages of the Europa League has certainly put the club on the map in terms of attracting players from further afield, with Kenny likely to look across the pond as he attempts to bolster his squad.

"I think certainly this year's European campaign has highlighted our league," Rogers maintained.

Opportunity

"Players in England are well aware of what Dundalk achieved this year and the opportunity to play Champions League football for players in England, bar the top clubs in the Premier League, it's not really there.

"You see the great nights we had in Europe last season, and the opportunity to go and play in those games for players in England would be a massive opportunity.

"So I think it's certainly something that players will factor into their decision if it's a case that we're going to recruit players from further afield."

Both Rogers and Finn were in Hope Montessori Autism Care Centre in Dublin yesterday where the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland (PFAI) presented a cheque for €6,505 and there certainly didn't appear to be any bad blood between the pair.

In fact, despite Rogers being understandably disappointed to lose a player of Finn's quality, the 35-year old supported his decision that was, as Finn told this newspaper earlier this week, largely based around looking to life after football.

"It was a bit of a shock," he admitted.

"Ronan was a fantastic player for Dundalk for the two years he was there. That shouldn't be forgotten on his trip back to his old club.

"I think there are lots of different factors that go into the equation when considering your options. Lads are going do to what suits them best.

"It might not always be finance, it might be a lifestyle thing, full-time to part-time.

"In Ronan's case, there is a job that goes with it. He's looking beyond football and I think in our league, it's important to look beyond football because you're only a year away from finishing anyway. It's important to have something lined up for after football too.

"I am due to file my final thesis in January so I'll be finished this by March. I think it's something that you definitely consider no matter what age you are. There is always a tendency with younger players that it doesn't concern you.

"I remember Tony McCarthy when I was at Shelbourne saying to make sure you do your college work because he was doing physio work when I started. It is important to have a back-up plan.

"That's why I've done the degree with FIFPro through the PFAI here. I can't wait to get it done and have a qualification under my belt because football for me is closer to the end than it is to the beginning. I have to plan for the future."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport