Dundalk FC are expected to ramp up preparations for next season in the coming week with talks set to take place with several out of contract players regarding their futures.
With the 2022 campaign now officially over following Sunday’s FAI Cup final, Stephen O’Donnell will begin the process of looking to tie down players for 2023.
Patrick Hoban and Ryan O’Kane (both 2024) as well as Greg Sloggett, Paul Doyle, Robbie McCourt, John Martin, Alfie Lewis and Daniel Kelly are all tied down for next season, but the remainder of the squad are now, officially, free agents.
The club also have an option on Players’ and Supporters’ Player of the Year Nathan Shepperd, which O’Donnell recently confirmed the club would be exercising to keep the Welsh goalkeeper at Oriel Park.
It is understood a new deal will also be offered to the likes of the out of contract Andy Boyle, as well as Darragh Leahy who, along with goalkeepers Peter Cherrie and Mark Byrne, appeared on the PFAI’s transfer list on Monday. Several others from the season just ended are also in the manager’s plans for 2023.
One player who could be set to depart is Sam Bone, who is understood to be weighing up a potential move to Spain, where his partner is from.
With last season’s loanees – Lewis Macari (Stoke City) and Steven Bradley and Runar Hauge (Hibernian) – all returning to their parent clubs, O’Donnell is busy scouring the market to add to a squad that was decimated by injuries towards the end of last season.
Dundalk have an active interest in 19-year-old midfielder Ben McCormack of St Patrick’s Athletic – who O’Donnell handed his senior debut to in September 2020 – as well as Evan Caffrey of UCD but it is understood that the latter is set for a move elsewhere. Another Student who the boss is believed to fancy is winger Dylan Duffy, who will turn 20 at the end of this month.
Off the field, the club last year concluded a deal with Newry-based PlayrFit for them to take over from Umbro as kit supplier for next season, with a new jersey, as well as additional merchandise, expected to be released early next month. BetRegal will also remain on as official club sponsors for next year.