Murray next on Kenny's shopping list
After wrapping up his first three signings of the close season last Friday, Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny will be hoping to add Ronan Murray to his ranks when he returns from holiday this week.
The former Galway Utd man is understood to be close to finalising a deal to make the move to Oriel Park, with the transfer set to be wrapped up in the coming days. Fans had been hoping that the Mayo man, who scored 13 league goals for the Tribesmen despite their relegation last season, would be unveiled alongside Dean Jarvis, Stephen Folan and Patrick Hoban last week but he only returned from a post-season break this week.
Kenny will be anxious to wrap up a deal for the former Ipswich Town player this week and he also expects to have a clearer picture on the futures of David McMillan, Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney, who he remains anxious to keep despite cross channel interest in all three. 'We should have a clearer picture on David, Patrick and Robbie towards the end of the week,' he said. 'We also want to keep hold of John Mountney but he isn't back from America until the following week.'
Further comments from St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright suggests they remain in pole position to sign McMillan but as far as Kenny is concerned nothing has been completed. 'The word coming out from them suggests they see it as a formality but we would be hopeful of keeping David and all three players,' he said.
While the club are expected to make a move for Derry City's Aaron McEneff, who would require a transfer fee, Kenny admitted any further moves will depend on the outcome of his attempts to hold onto the players currently out of contract.
'It does really depend on whether we keep players or not and we will just have to see how we go on that.' Last week's three acquisitions mean Dundalk have 14 players now under contract for next season with Kenny remaining hopeful of having a squad of 20 or 21 senior players.
Having allowed Dean Jarvis to train at Derry City a number of times while the player was at Aberdeen and he was in charge of the Candystripes, Kenny is aware of the former Northern Ireland U-21 international's capabilities and feels he can progress at Oriel Park.
'Dean is best known as an attacking left back. He has a good attitude and is a good passer of the ball. He has also played centre half for Derry as well so he gives us options in that regard.
'We're in a situation where three defenders - Paddy Barrett, Niclas Vemmelund and Shane Grimes - have left the club from last season so adding Dean helps negate that. He's a good player with the capacity to get better I feel.' Another defender signed up, also on a two year deal, is Galway man Stephen Folan.
'Stephen looked good when he was at Newcastle. He's someone with a good attitude and I've no doubt he will get better in a better team. He has a good range of passing and a very good left foot. 'He's a good size and is very aggressive. 'He has had an up and down few years but playing 66 games over the last couple of seasons with Galway will have brought him on and hopefully he will improve even further here.'
Also returning to Dundalk is Pat Hoban, who was Kenny's first singing alongside John Dillon back on December 4th 2012. While the club's top scorer from 2014 didn't enjoy the success he hoped for in England, where he had spells at Oxford Utd and Mansfield Town amongst others, Kenny is hopeful that the 26-year-old Loughrea native will be a huge addition to the squad.
'Patrick has great mentality and hunger. He is very strong mentally as a player, His back to goal play is exceptional. He scored 20 league goals when he was last here. A lot has happened in that time but if he can discover that sort of form again he'll be a fantastic addition.
'He's very determined coming back and is someone who is happy in Dundalk. I feel he will be a good addition because he's a very brave player who gives everything.' The manager also said he was hopeful of including Georgie Poynton, who spent last season on loan at Bohemians, in his squad for the year ahead.
'Georgie is on holidays at the moment so we will have to see how that goes. He had a reasonable season last year out on loan but I still feel he could be an addition to us and he definitely has a good career ahead of him.' Kenny said there was 'no update' on the future of Thomas Stewart but admitted there was interest from 'a few clubs' in taking Carlton Ubaezuono on loan.
He also suggested there may be a deal on the table for Jake O'Connor who he said 'did well' when featuring a number of times towards the end of last season. While a return for pre-season has been earmarked in the first week in January, no decision has yet been made on whether the club will go on a camp either at home or abroad and no friendlies have as yet been lined up although the manager admitted he would be looking to play a number of First Division sides.
He said he expected a competitive division next year and admitted Dundalk would have to raise their standards to compete for the title. 'It's a big challenge for us next year because we could play in the region of 50 matches. There's 36 league games, some of which will be midweek, and the standard will be up on last year because you have Waterford coming up who will be very strong. 'We'll have to play the likes of Cork and Shamrock Rovers four times but all the matches will be tough. I don't see many comfortable wins so we will have to be at our best every single week,' he said.