Tuesday 16 October 2018

Drogheda boy O'Neill top target

Marcus Cavaroli

Current UCD manager Collie O'Neill looks favourite to be named as manager of his home-town team Drogheda United later today (Tuesday) as the club attempts to move quickly to name a successor to Pete Mahon.

O'Neill (41) has held the reigns at the Belfield Bowl since December 2014, leading them to finishes of third, fourth and third in the last three seasons - all in Division 1 - but he clearly feels it's time for a new challenge.

Last night Drogs chairman Fiachra Kierans was awaiting word from O'Neill about whether he would take the job, having spent a few days considering the offer and whether he would be able to commit fully to it, given that he lives in Churchtown on the south side of Dublin.

It's thought that if he took the job O'Neill would turn to UCD's current Under-19s boss, the former Drogheda defender Ian Ryan, as his assistant.

The Drogheda board are also believed to have met with former Bray Wanderers manager Harry Kenny about the vacancy, but it's understood he's now not being considered. However, four other potential candidates remain in the frame given that O'Neill hasn't yet declared his intentions.

Whoever gets the job will have to agree to a small playing budget and accept that the chances of promotion back to the Premier Division next October will be very slim.

Outlining what sort of a job Mahon's successor will be walking into, chairman Kierans said: 'The next manager will be on a long-term contract, a longer one than Pete Mahon was on, but part of his remit is that we are using youth players rather than buying in players.

'We are keeping in touch with the squad from last year. Some have gone, but we always accepted that some would move on anyway.

'We are not going to try and buy our way back into the Premier. We will remain nice and prudent and develop the potential of the Under-17s and 19s coming up and we will happily take promotion if it arrives. But it's not the be all and end all.

'We appreciate Pete's input over the last two years and want to continue on the journey he started in developing young players, so that next time we are promoted we're in a better financial position to deal with that.'

Two more of last season's playing squad have moved on over the last week, with Adam Wixted opting for Premier Division football with Sligo Rovers and Jamie Hollywood joining his former Drogs teammate Chris Mulhall at Longford Town.

Meanwhile, hopes of retaining one of last season's management team, goalkeeping coach Chris Bennion, have been dashed after the 37-year-old former Shelbourne, Dundalk, Longford and Middlesbrough stopper decided to link up with Bohemians for 2018.

• Drogheda native Ryan Brennan, at 26 the youngest of the well-known Rathmullen siblings, has left Bray Wanderers and joined St Patrick's Athletic for 2018, but it's not yet clear whether his elder brother Killian will be remaining at Richmond Park next season.

Drogheda Independent