Thursday 22 March 2018

'Crazy stuff': Drogheda boss reflects on amazing comeback that secured their Premier Division status

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Pete Mahon turns 70 next year and he will start 2017 as a Premier Division manager again after masterminding Drogheda's extraordinary play-off win over Wexford Youths.

The veteran Dubliner is one of the most popular figures in Irish football and the messages of congratulations from around the game came flooding in after a dramatic 3-0 second leg success got the Boynesiders across the line.

"Crazy stuff," was his two word summation of a hectic evening with Mahon barely able to compute the drama of the second half and a late miss from Wexford that should have sent the match to extra-time.

He felt that Drogheda deserved to go through over the two games. "But you need that bit of luck as well," he stressed.

Mahon has experienced the full range of emotions in his long career, yet he is adamant that Drogheda will be his swansong.

It's been a strange 18 months as he initially came to help Johnny McDonnell as manager but left when his tenure came to an end.

Mark Kinsella assumed control but Mahon came back last October for the game that confirmed their relegation as the former Irish international didn't have the qualifications to stay in charge for more than 60 days.

Drogheda then decided to appoint Mahon as their permanent boss with Kinsella staying on his staff and the year has exceeded his expectations.

Giddy Drogheda fans were singing about having a crack at local rivals Dundalk next term, but the wily old figure in the hot-seat is realistic about the road ahead.

The 2007 champions are trying to build from the bottom up after the overspending in the good times caught up with them.

"We were trying to build something here and try and get promoted inside three years," says Mahon.

"To get up in the first year, it's tremendous but it's kind of scary as well. I'll have to do a bit of recruitment now and  see how we get on.

"It's going to be a massive challenge because if I'm totally honest, I didn't think we could get promoted. I was going to say we could try and knock Dundalk off their perch but their perch is about 25 perches above ours so its going to be very difficult.

"I was reminded that in 2003, Drogheda beat Galway here in a similar situation (playoff) and then the good times clicked in but that won't happen again - the way the club was run before.

"There's a plan in place here that we've kind of got ahead of ourselves now a bit. The club will be run properly and we'll be prudent in our spending because I'll be out of here in a year or two or so because this is my last kick. This is my last roll of the dice, and I want to leave something behind.

"I'm just delighted that I took the job here, because it was a long, hard challenge to put together a team.

"I got a chance to do it my own way and I have to pay tribute to my staff, to Mark Kinsella, John Gill, Chris Bennion and Gerry Kelly. I'm at the stage where I trust those lads completely and I'm able to manage things and delegate a bit better than I was before.

"I'm a bit more clever now with old age," he smiled. "That's what happens."

There's life in the old dog yet

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