STEPHEN KENNY has been rewarded for his outstanding work with Dundalk by having his contract extended until 2015.
The former Derry City and Shamrock Rovers boss has turned last season's bottom side into realistic double contenders, who sit second in the Premier Division standings behind St Patrick's Athletic, whom they meet on Friday night in a potential title decider.
Kenny has also guided the Lilywhites into the FAI Ford Cup semi-finals, and the club have moved to nail down their man after Friday's 5-1 demolition of Shelbourne.
It is a remarkable turnaround for Kenny, who just a year ago was sacked by Shamrock Rovers.
"All Dundalk fans have been thrilled with the level of performances from the team this year," said Dundalk chairman Ciaran Bond.
"Stephen's professionalism, work rate and passion for the job have been a major factor in the club's revival."
With the Saints' hopes of the double ended by Shamrock Rovers on Friday, the pressure is now on manager Liam Buckley to steer the club to their first league title since 1999.
But Pat's have a potential midfield crisis for Friday's showdown, with Stephen Maher and Greg Bolger definitely out and Killian Brennan and Shane McFaul doubtful.
Defeat to Dundalk would see the Saints lose pole position with five games to go, but Buckley is confident that his players will rise to the challenge.
"There will be pressure on Dundalk as well, let me tell you. It's all fine chasing, chasing and chasing," he said.
"We're in the driving seat. We'll regroup. We've got a great squad of players and every one of them is ready to step up to the plate."