St Patrick's Athletic face a battle to hold onto FAI Cup winning boss Stephen O’Donnell with his former club Dundalk identifying the Galwegian as their top managerial target.
O’Donnell is not tied to a long-term deal and was tight-lipped on his future in the aftermath of a dramatic Aviva Stadium success for his side.
It’s understood that Dundalk’s new owners want to bring him back to Oriel Park but his focus on the final prevented them from following up on their interest. He’s not the only candidate as Drogheda supremo Tim Clancy is held in high regard.
However, the club are expected to find out O’Donnell’s intentions before making any decisions and it’s anticipated discussions will take place once the dust has settled on the final. A number of out of contract Dundalk players are stalling around making a decision on their future because they are waiting to see what happens in the dugout.
Vinny Perth’s short-term deal expired at the end of the season and, while he is not completely out of the equation, the anticipation is that a new man will be in charge for 2022. Despite speculation around cutbacks, Dundalk will have a competitive budget for next term.
When asked after the game if he would be in charge of St Pat’s next year, O’Donnell said: “We will see. We will get all that sort of decided over the next week or two, we’ll see what happens.
“Today, I am buzzing to be winning with this group of lads and the staff we have. It has been an abnormal journey as regards Covid, with the difficulties we had, I missed a game a couple of weeks ago, other lads as well because they got Covid, so to dodge all them bullets and end up at the Aviva November 28, 37,000 and be on the right side to win the FAI Cup, I’m just buzzing.”
Saints defender Lee Desmond urged the club to move quickly on tying down their manager and players with only a handful currently secured.
“There’s a lot of lads out of contract, hopefully that gets sorted,” said Desmond.
“Everyone gets on so well with him (O’Donnell), he’s brought us on to another level. Not that everyone wasn’t taking it seriously – he’s put certain demands on you that weren’t there before.”
“The big thing for him is the camaraderie in the group, it's a tight knit group.
"We owe a lot to Stephen because he's come in and got us to where we want to be."
The 35-year-old does not have aPro Licence with Alan Mathews’ presence on the Saints staff satisfying licensing requirements so that would represent a slight complication for Dundalk.