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Dundalk manager Perth slams 'complete and utter lack of respect' over Derry's McEleney announcement

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Patrick McEleney gestures after Dundalk's victory over Newtown in the Europa Conference League at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Louth. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Patrick McEleney gestures after Dundalk's victory over Newtown in the Europa Conference League at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Louth. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Patrick McEleney gestures after Dundalk's victory over Newtown in the Europa Conference League at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Louth. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Vinny Perth has lashed out at Derry City and his former assistant Ruaidhri Higgins after they announced the signing of Patrick McEleney in the hour after he played a Europa League game for Dundalk.

Derry released a statement to say McEleney had signed a deal to join when his contract ends - and they didn't rule out bringing forward the move to this window if Dundalk were agreeable to it.

"City have made enquiries to the Louth club about releasing McEleney in the current transfer window however no agreement on that has been reached as yet," read the statement.

"Derry are keen however to put an end to ongoing speculation about the player’s future.

"The 28-year old will sign with the Brandywell side until at least the end of the 2023 season."

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Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

City boss Higgins was quoted as saying: "I'm really looking forward to working with Patrick again and we are delighted to be bringing one of the best players in the country back to his hometown club."

The timing of the announcement drew a furious response from Perth who had finished conducting press duties after a 4-0 win over Welsh side Newtown when the news broke and had to be asked for fresh comment.

"I think it’s a complete and utter lack of respect for this football club," said Perth.

"The wording of it is disgraceful and it’s trying to unsettle this football team and I won’t let anyone unsettle the football team that I’m working with. I just think it’s completely disrespectful.

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"The people in Derry are good people but I’m just shocked by it and I thought particularly the manager (Higgins) would have known better. He has done very well out of this football club for a long time."

Higgins was assistant to Perth until he left to join Stephen Kenny's backroom staff when the Ireland manager took over from Mick McCarthy.

But he left the FAI to return to Derry in April, signing a three-and-a-half-year deal, and bringing local players back to the club was high on his priority list.

McEleney is the latest high profile departure out of Dundalk, with Chris Shields joining Linfield last month.

The playmaker had always indicated a willingness to return home and the opportunity to reunite with Higgins was also an attraction.

McEleney joined Dundalk ahead of the 2016 campaign and had a brief spell with Oldham before returning in 2018 and scoring an FAI Cup final winner in Stephen Kenny's final game in charge.

He has been troubled by injuries in recent seasons.


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