Dundalk 1 St Patrick's Athletic 1
Filippo Giovagnoli's position at Dundalk looks set to be nearing its end after Sporting Director Jim Magilton refused to deny reports that the Italian was to be removed from the club's coaching ticket after nine months.
A day of drama at Oriel Park began when it was revealed that manager Shane Keegan had left the club on Friday, leaving Giovagnoli to take charge of the team for Saturday night's Premier Division clash with St Patrick's Athletic.
The game finished 1-1, with Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe's 85th minute equaliser cancelling out Sam Bone's header.
Reports surfaced before the game suggesting Giovagnoli would be sacked after the game, regardless of what result the Lilywhites could manage against top of the table Saints. Speaking to the media after the game, Magilton said no statement on the managerial situation at the club would be forthcoming - yet.
"We will issue a statement in due course. We will clarify all this in due course, I promise you that," he said. Largely resisting questions relating to the managerial situation, Magilton said a statement will be issued in the next few days but would not confirm whether that would be before Tuesday night's game with Derry.
When pressed, he also failed to say whether Giovagnoli would be in the dugout at the Brandywell. "No comment," he responded.
Magilton was asked who picked the team for Saturday's 1-1 draw and reacted in spiky fashion. Before the start of the season, Magilton said Keegan, in his new role of team manager, would pick the team.
"Who do you think picked the team? The team would have already been picked do you not think, going into this game, going into a game like this?
"My role will be listening to all parties in this and then we will make a decision and we will make a statement. We’ve been very, very open from day one, since we came back in, and we’ll be as open again when we’re ready to do that," he said.
A group of supporters gathered beyond the perimeter barriers at the Carrick Road end of the ground prior to kick-off on Saturday evening with banners reading 'Ran Like A Circus' and Tempo Di Adare', which translates from Italian to 'Time To Go', a pointed message aimed squarely at Dundalk's coach.
"Nobody is working harder than the people at this football club to turn this around. We know that the start hasn't been what we wanted it to be. We're off to a slow start. Confidence is massive in the game.
"If you're losing games of football, people are going to question. We're not questioning anyone here. We know how hard people work."
The Italian was a surprise appointment when plucked from obscurity to replace Vinny Perth last August by club chairman Bill Hulszier. Despite not holding the UEFA Pro License required to manage a team in the Premier Division, Giovagnoli was initially given license to do so via the league's temporary 60-day dispensation rule.
However, the club were forced to act to provide a longer-term solution and last season they settled on promoting opposition analyst Shane Keegan - himself a former Wexford Youths and Galway United boss - to the coaching staff.
Falling foul of strict UEFA rules during last season's Europa League group stages, Dundalk were fined €50,000 after Giovagnoli was found to be 'shadow coaching' during games. Keegan had been officially designated as the manager for those matches.
Ahead of the new season, the club held a press conference in which Keegan was officially named Team Manager while Giovagnoli, who had held the title of Head Coach previously, was seemingly demoted to merely a coach.
The club said that Keegan alone was responsible for picking the team but it has long been understood that Giovagnoli was responsible for the major decision-making in the dressing room.
The unusual arrangement at Dundalk had been met with much scepticism, as had Giovagnoli's original appointment last year, and with Keegan said to be uncomfortable with the situation, he informed the club of his intention to leave on Friday afternoon.
Magilton is believed to have asked Keegan to reconsider his decision to leave during a conversation on Friday, conscious that his departure would create a problem in the dugout for Saturday's game against Pat's but also upcoming fixtures against Derry City and Drogheda United, but his mind was made up.
Magilton also confirmed on Saturday evening that the club would not change their coaching structure, posing a question as to what is next, who will come in at Oriel Park and in what capacity.
The former Ipswich Town manager holds a UEFA Pro License himself but told reporters he had not personally been involved in team affairs leading up to Saturday's game. He sat in the stand for the duration of the match, while Giovagnoli and right-hand man Guiseppe Rossi took up positions on the bench.
Rossi was booked by referee Damien MacGraith for running onto the pitch after Junior's leveller.