Chairman excited by Champions League return
Dundalk FC begin their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday, as Riga FC visit Oriel Park for our first qualifying round first leg tie. As we build up to the big game, dundalkfc.com caught up with chairman Mike Treacy to get his thoughts ahead of an exciting time for all involved with the club.
DFC: Mike, our European campaign is about to get underway. How excited are you that the Champions League is almost upon us?
MT: “I’m hugely excited by it. The Champions League is the pinnacle of European football and this is the biggest time of the year for all of us at Dundalk FC – the players, the coaching staff, everyone working at the club, and most importantly the supporters.
“Last year we all worked so hard to win the league and get ourselves back into the Champions League. Fortunately, we were in a strong position where we could keep the squad together from the title-winning campaign of 2018, and add to it to give us the best possible chance of success this summer.
“We are in a great place, ready and prepared for the challenges ahead.”
DFC: We have been on an incredible run in recent weeks and months. How impressed have you been by the form the team has shown?
MT: “First of all, I’d stress there is a long way to go, and nothing has been achieved yet, so we keep our feet on the ground, but I am thrilled with where we are at the moment. We are in a great position but there’s a lot of hard work left to do.
“The run of form that the team is currently on doesn’t come as a surprise to me, because I know what excellent people we have at the club, and how hard they work to achieve their goals. The recent run of results has been amazing to watch and we are all very proud of what the players and staff have achieved in turning a 13-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
“Outsiders doubted us during the close-season with the changes we went through. They questioned how we would cope with those changes, and they doubted us when we were losing players through injury. Those of us on the inside never doubted the character we have running through the club and that strength of character has served us well.
“I have to pay tribute to Vinny, Ruaidhri, John and Stephen for the leadership they have shown, as well as the coaching, scouting and overall preparation that goes into every match. They are growing as people and have really impressed with the way they have faced up to every challenge that has been presented to them and dealt with it positively.
“The players have showed amazing character and determination, to come through a lot of adversity this season. The early injuries we suffered created a difficult and testing situation for the players to deal with, and they have done an amazing job to get back to the top of the table.
“I also want to salute Danny Miller, David Murphy, Graham Norton, David Maguire, and all of the other backroom staff who have been under a huge amount of pressure dealing with the unprecedented amount of injuries we have had, ensuring that players get back to full fitness quickly, and also managed the workload of players who have played more football than anticipated during this time. Their work often goes unnoticed by people on the outside, but not by us.”
DFC: The club has made significant investment into the playing squad. How happy are you with the current group of players?
MT: “We have an incredible squad, with great characters, full of hugely talented players. We have nine survivors from the 2016 European campaign, and their experience will be vital in Europe again. When you look at the age of our players, there are a large number of players who are approaching the peak years of their career, and I look forward to seeing them all perform at the highest level, not just this summer but for many years to come.
“We have backed Vinny and the staff in the transfer market, making some shrewd additions to the squad for the 2019 season and beyond – and that squad depth has helped us deal with the injuries we have had this season.
“The return of Andy Boyle is a big boost, and I consider it to be a real coup to have been able to bring him back at this stage of his career. We all worked hard behind the scenes to make it happen and the fact Andy wanted to come back to us at this stage of his career speaks volumes about where the club are headed.
“As well as this, we have successfully completed contract renegotiations with some players, while discussions with a number of others are ongoing. We have to ensure that nothing takes focus away from Europe, and also the title race, but I believe the results we are seeing on the pitch are testament to our strategy and decision-making process around how we build our squad.”
DFC: Finally, what message do you have for the fans at this stage of the season?
MT: “I genuinely believe our fans have contributed to us getting through some difficult matches this season. The support for the players is the best in the league and some of the late goals we have scored have been down to the support of the fans from kick-off until the final whistle. The players hear it, and thrive off it, and it has shown right from the first game.
“My message would be to enjoy this time of year! It’s the most important part of the season for everyone associated with the club. We are the only football town in Ireland where the whole town shuts down around European games, and I’m thrilled that we have been able to bring Champions League football back to Dundalk.
“We must all pull together as one, to get behind our players and staff, and we know you will support the team just as you always have done. Together the players and fans have been on an exciting journey this season, which is only just beginning as far as Europe is concerned.”