Sunday 26 March 2017

Towell praise for Kenny as Brighton land Dundalk star

Richie Towell signed for Championship side Brighton
Richie Towell signed for Championship side Brighton
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Richie Towell paid tribute to the influence of Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny after penning a two-and-a-half-year deal with Championship leaders Brighton that gives the midfielder a chance to progress to another level.

Towell was in Brighton over the weekend to tie up for the formalities of his switch and watched Chris Hughton's side move back to the summit by registering a victory over Birmingham.

He will not be eligible to play for his new employers until January and has been given time off by Hughton to prepare for the birth of his first child. His girlfriend Kelly is expecting next week and the player will be allowed to spend some time at home after the arrival before moving across to Brighton on a full-time basis later this month.

Services

The 24-year-old had a number of clubs to pick from in England, Scotland and further afield but Brighton made a play for his services after Hughton was impressed by his exploits in Dundalk's double-winning year.

Speaking after completing the switch, Towell said that the atmosphere created by Kenny ensured that the group pushed on again in 2015. In doing so, he improved from a position where he had an unhappy trial with Cardiff last winter to being signed by a superior side with the expectation that he will come straight into the first-team squad.

"The manager was great for our development," said Towell, who was interviewed during his time in Brighton about the switch that was formally announced yesterday. "We worked really hard as a group with Dundalk. As soon as we came back after winning the first title, he was adamant about winning another and he was great."

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Kenny now faces the difficult task of replacing a player who contributed 29 goals in all competitions. Dundalk have made a play for the services of UCD playmaker Robbie Benson who is well regarded by all of the league's top clubs and is ready to progress up a grade after mixing football with his academic work at Belfield. Derry's Patrick McEleney is another target, but the Candystripes would be entitled to significant compensation which could pose a problem.

The Lilywhites are still waiting for a firm answer from left winger Daryl Horgan on his intentions for next term. Peterborough have looked at him as well as McEleney, but it's possible that the Galwegian could commit to another season in Louth.

Hughton is thrilled by the "excellent addition" to his squad. "He's played a lot of football in the past nine months, but I'm certain he will be ready for us in January," he said. "He had a lot of good options available so we are delighted he has decided to join us.

"Richie's had a wonderful season in Ireland and scored a lot of goals and that really caught our eye. He is something different to the number of very good midfield options we have."

Towell has again stressed that international ambitions with Ireland were a major part of his thought process in assessing his options. "It would be a big task (to get in Euros) as I haven't played in a qualifier," he said. "I would need some eye-catching performances and hopefully I can give that manager a headache too.

"I wouldn't have made the move to Brighton if I wasn't confident of playing. There are a lot of games in the Championship and people will get fatigued or injured. Once I'm ready to step in and hit the ground running, I'm sure it'll be a hard decision for the manager to leave me out.

"The set-up here is unbelievable. It's a weird transitional period as my girlfriend is due but I want to come over and start training as soon as possible. I want to hit the ground running and if that means coming over a little bit early and putting in the hours on the training pitch, that's what I'll be doing."

Irish Independent

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