Sunday 18 March 2018

2020 vision for Kenny as Dundalk boss signs new deal at Oriel Park

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Kenny has targeted improvement on and off the pitch after signing a new contract with Dundalk that will tie him to the Oriel Park club until the end of the 2020 season.

The news is a significant boost to Dundalk as they prepare to relinquish their league crown to Cork City after three titles in a row.

Kenny is already looking ahead to next year with a young group of players that are on a learning curve in a year that has failed to go to plan both domestically and in the European sphere after the pain of a narrow Champions League loss to Rosenborg.

And the manager still faces a job to hold onto some of his leading players with the likes of Patrick McEleney, Robbie Benson and Sean Gannon out of contract at the end of this season. McEleney has interest from Australia and the UK.

But Kenny is committed to building a club with Dundalk using some of the funds from last term's incredible European run to improve the infrastructure at Oriel Park.

The hectic nature of the past 12 months has prevented the club from being able to really take stock of where they stand yet they will now plot the road ahead in the coming months with the switch to 52-week contracts for players one option that is very much on the cards.

They are also installing facilities at the Youth Development Centre next to the pitch which is now in their possession and can benefit the club on a number of levels.

"We want to progress as a club," said Kenny yesterday. "We haven't moved too quickly as a club because our success has been quite rapid. I have been the only full-time member of staff as such up to now and we need to improve to get better.

"Oriel Park has stood still here but there is plans for the Development Centre. We are looking at putting a sports science room in it, we are going to put in a medical department and a video analysis department. These are all new developments."

Kenny still splits his weeks between Dundalk and the family home in Fahan in Donegal and he did have to weigh up the demands of that situation when mulling over his options.

"For me, it was a big decision to stay as manager," he continued. "If I had to have known five years ago that I would still be managing Dundalk then I am sure we would have moved!

"By the end of this season I would have done that two-and-a-half-hour trip between 850 and 900 times over the five years."

Getting back into high-stakes European competition is the priority for the 45-year-old Dubliner moving forward.

"We started with absolutely nothing and it has been a great journey. We are still on it," he continued. "As a manager, I want to manage at the highest level. In order to do that at Dundalk, we have got to aspire to get back into the group stages of European competition and filling our national stadium.

"We've had to rebuild the team and we have some excellent talent under the age of 22 - Sean Hoare, Michael Duffy, Jamie McGrath, Dylan Connolly.

"Steven Kinsella has been injured so we are yet to see the best of him. Next season we will see a big improvement in them all. I'm excited by the way the team is shaping up."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport