Dundalk manager Vinny Perth says that the decision by two key members of his backroom staff to quit the club, with a month to go in the season, has "hurt" the players but he insists he backs the duo's call to walk away.
nd despite their position in the table, just one point clear of the relegation zone with one game more played than their two closest rivals in that dogfight, Perth says his side could have been title contenders this season only for "the environment in the club".
Dundalk, who have had four changes of manager in 14 months, saw more chaos with the sudden exit of medical/physio staff Danny Miller and Graham Norton in between their double-header against St Patrick's Athletic.
The club have made no official statement on their departure though Norton said on social media on Sunday that "3 great years at Dundalk comes to an end".
Perth confirmed their exits but declined to elaborate and said it was up to the club to explain off-field issues. "It's not for me to say why people did or didn't leave the club. That's for another day. They've had to make this decision and I agree with it and respect it," he said.
"All I do is represent the team at the moment and anything around staff and different bits and pieces I think needs to be aimed at the club. I can only speak on behalf of myself and the players.
"We had a messy weekend again in the club and therefore people that they (players) are really close to, Danny Miller and Graham Norton, have decided that they need to move on and I completely agree with their decision and I respect it.
"I'm a league-winning manager and I always will be, no matter what happens, and them two were part of a league-winning staff, and you need that if you're going to win leagues. And they're gone so that has really hurt the players," Perth added.
"They're good players. I believe that our squad is capable of being there or thereabouts in the title race if the environment in this club was right. The environment in the club isn't right for them so therefore they haven't been able to achieve their goals. I don't think too much blame can lie at the players' door."
Dundalk are level on points with eighth-placed Waterford and a point ahead of Finn Harps in ninth, but the two clubs have a game in hand on the Lilywhites. Dundalk and Waterford meet at Oriel Park on Friday night.