Drogs give rivals the nod to approach manager
Drogheda United chairman Fiachra Kierans still feels the chances of Tim Clancy remaining in charge for 2019 are 'better than 50/50' after the club granted permission for the manager to speak to Shelbourne about their managerial vacancy.
Shels lost to the Drogs in the first promotion play-off tie and subsequently decided not to renew Owen Heary's contract, and they've made Clancy their chief target after the Boynesiders' own promotion hopes were shattered when going down 3-1 on aggregate to Finn Harps last Friday.
The 34-year-old Trim native has voiced concerns that several of his top players will be tempted to leave the club in search of more money elsewhere, and having come under new ownership earlier this year Shelbourne would appear better placed to make a fresh challenge for promotion next season.
Kierans admitted that there is a 'Plan B' should Clancy - who has just completed his debut season in management - decide to leave but is quite happy to adopt a 'wait and see' approach while the manager considers his options.
Speaking on Monday afternoon, he told the Drogheda Independent: 'I don't get a sense that Tim is going anywhere. Any discussions I've had with him, there is no sense of him wanting to move on and he's been talking about players he wants to bring in for next season.
'But we've given permission out of courtesy to Shelbourne and to Tim, because if you look at the internet the rumour mill's gone into overdrive.
'We would not stand in Tim's way - just as we wouldn't stand in a player's way if he wanted to go - we're too small in Irish football for that kind of messing.
'We don't want him to go, but at least this way if he stays it's because he's happy to stay.'
Asked how hard he'd try to persuade Clancy to stay, the chairman responded: 'We'd have to see where we fell down with him, what we didn't do, what's the attraction of Shelbourne over Drogheda and see if we could match it.'
The manager's future at United Park - if there is any - should become clear by the weekend, but Kierans still feels the odds are on Clancy sticking to the verbal agreement he has to complete a two-year term at United Park.
'I would say the chances are higher than 50/50,' the chairman speculated, 'but I've been proved wrong in the past. I thought Pete Mahon was staying and he went.
'But we will be doing our best to keep Tim at Drogheda United.'
In one sense the pressure in terms of a budget for next season lessened after Friday's defeat ended the Drogs' hopes of promotion straight back to the top flight, and Kierans was philosophical about the prospect of spending back-to-back seasons in the First Division for the first time since the turn of the century.
'We would have made it work if we'd gone up, and I would have liked to be in the Premier Division because that's where the real action is,' he said.
'But looking at the age profile of the players we have and the emergence of a significant number of young players, another season in the First Division might actually be beneficial for them.'