Kenny Extends Contract
Dundalk Football Club are delighted to announce that manager Stephen Kenny has signed a new contract at the club.
Kenny, whose contract was due to expire at the end of the current campaign, has signed a two year extension which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2018 season. Kenny became manager the club in November 2012 and has enjoyed unprecedented success with the Lilywhites which has seen him become one of the most successful in the history of Dundalk FC – guiding the club to the EA Sports Cup, President’s Cup, Leinster Senior Cup, FAI Cup and two successive SSE Airtricity League titles for the first time since the formation of the club.
Speaking to dundalkfc.com after penning the new deal the manager was understandably delighted to commit his future to the club and reflected on the ‘incredible journey’ that the club has taken.
“My contract was up in November so I only had a short period of time left to run. I have agreed to stay on as manager for the next three years. This is my fourth year here as manager and when I came to the club we had nothing. I had a blank canvas, the team finished bottom. A lot of people found it difficult to be optimistic but I believed that with hard work and dedication that we could achieve a lot.
“It has been incredible really the last two seasons, winning the two league titles, the FAI Cup and the EA Sports Cup as well as the Leinster Senior Cup and President’s Cup. It has been an incredible journey from bottom to top. John Mountney and Chris Shields have been a huge part of that from the team that played in the relegation playoff. Here they are as double league champions so it’s a great story from their point of view.”
Continuity Behind The Scenes
One of the keys to success has been the continuity that has existed behind the scenes right from the owners of the club to the backroom and Kenny was quick to point out that was a big advantage to him throughout the last three years and he reserved a special word of praise for his backroom staff who have been a part of the success throughout the four seasons to date.
“Andy Connolly and Paul Brown when I met them and when they came to my house, we spoke initially and subsequently they don’t consider that I work for them. They consider that I work with them as manager. They never considered that I work for them. They said to me that you work with us and there has been that element of trust in the partnership. I appreciate that. They are very low profile people, they don’t court any attention and are low profile owners. They are hardworking nonetheless.
“Everyone behind them, all people connected to the club, have been very supportive. From Ailish and the office staff right to Willie McKeever and the ground staff with everyone in between. Everyone has been brilliant and supportive in whatever way they can.
Back Room Team
“From my point of view the big advantage has been that the backroom team have stayed the same over the past four years. It has been fantastic in that respect.
“Vinny Perth has been a brilliant addition. He knows me well from playing with me. He has been a brilliant assistant manager over the past few years. Steve Williams is an outstanding professional and a brilliant goalkeeping coach. He is a fantastic to have around the place behind the scenes.
“I didn’t know any of the other staff before I took the job. Steve Williams I knew of but didn’t know him personally. Graham Byrne and Gerry Spain – I didn’t know them personally beforehand but they have all fitted in perfectly.
“Graham Byrne is very innovative. He is at the cutting edge of sport science. Gerry Spain is our match analysist of the opposition and is in grounds all over the country on match nights watching the opposition for us. They have been a brilliant team behind the scenes. It’s great that everyone has stayed together for the four seasons and people like Noel Walsh, Harry Taaffe and Dr. Samir Akhal have been here as well as the youth coaches – Martin Connolly, Liam Burns and Mick Neville who are our under 19 and under 17 coaches. They have all stayed the same so we have had that continuity right the way through. Only one member of staff has left and that was our physio Paul Cheshire due to work commitments but we have brought in Fearghal Kerin with Sam Rice and they have been excellent.
“Everyone has remained constant and that is despite all of the technical staff having full-time jobs. There has been huge demands on them as people. I am lucky to have had all the staff and great assistance. “
One of the factors of the success has been the consistency which the side have retained over the last four seasons and he pointed out the ‘unique group of players’ which he has at the club and praised the character and skill within the team.
“It is a unique group of players. They have really been special. It has been a great journey. It has never been about any individuals. It has been the collective strength of the squad and the group. There’s a real sense of teamwork when we are attacking and defending. Even though the team comes first, we really encourage our players to fulfil their individual talent within the framework of the team.
“We want the players to trust their creative instincts to maximise their talent.
“When my son was nine, I said to him there’s no ‘I’ in team but he said back to me ‘there’s five in individual brilliance!’ I had to laugh at it! In other words we want individuals to express themselves within the framework of the team. “
“We have got players with real character. I think over the last couple of seasons we have seen that in abundance but the challenge is to sustain it. It’s not an easy challenge. Because of other issues Oriel Park has stood still so we have had to overcome that as a group.
We have to put that to the back of our minds and focus on our own thing. That can be a frustration to people off the pitch because you want to continually move forward. We have to collectively sustain the level that we have been at. We have only lost one of the last forty-eight in league and FAI Cup. That’s a level of consistency we want to keep.”
“Every single day we are focused. Over the last two seasons we have played ninety-nine competitive games plus fifteen friendlies in shortened seasons. Every three or four days we have been playing so you have to have that relentless focus. You have to retain that hunger.”
The decision to sign a two-year extension with the club has been a deeply personal one for the Dublin native and with his family living in Donegal, he revealed the sacrifices that he has had to make but feels that the success has made the commitment worth it.
“From my point of view, the decision to re-sign was a big personal one. I live in the Inishowen Peninsula. It has been a massive commute over the last three years for me. My two boys and two girls – they play sport. I have missed a lot of their matches being away. That’s a big price to pay so if you’re going to make sacrifices like that you have to make sure that they are worthwhile. It’s a long trip from near Inch Island to Dundalk and to sustain that with the matches that we have had needs absolute focus.
“To be fair, you couldn’t walk away from this of players easily. They have given so much. They have so much more to give. We have lost some good players over the last few seasons but we have also signed some really good players, some very talented ones. It’s a great journey and it’s one that we don’t intend on easing up on.
There’s been so much achieved and so much left to achieve. You can see that in the numbers in the support from day one. The whole new generation of support that we have now have really connected with this team. There’s been a lot of negative publicity for the town before but the fact that the club will represent Ireland in the Champions League is fantastic and the football club brings a real positive influence on the region – bringing 14,000 people to the AVIVA and lift the trophy speaks volumes and lifts the whole area.”