Preparations Begin as Perth & Byrne Join Staff
Dundalk Football Club returned to pre-season training last night (Wednesday) to being a seven week training programme before the big kick-off on 8th March against Shamrock Rovers. Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has confirmed that Vinny Perth, who played one season at Oriel Park in 2007 under John Gill, has joined his staff as first-team coach. Also helping the squad prepare is strength and conditioning coach Graham Byrne.
Speaking to dundalkfc.com on Thursday afternoon, the new Dundalk manager explained his happiness at the squad he has so far assembled: “We started back last night in the YDC to do some fitness testing with the players. We have a seven week schedule that includes six friendly games. Results are not the most important thing in pre-season friendlies. It’s more about improving match fitness and integrating all the new players in the set-up. It will take some time to make all the players aware of how we intend to play. We also intend to get used to the Oriel Park surface as many of the lads won’t have played on it before”.
So far, games have been arranged at Oriel Park against Finn Harps (Friday February 8th) and Wexford Youths (Friday February 22nd) with a potential third match at Oriel Park against local opposition. Dundalk will also travel north for a number of games – including a match with the Northern Ireland Intermediate Team. The final pre-season match is the club’s annual encounter with Drogheda United in the Jim Malone Cup in Oriel Park on Friday 1st March.
Dundalk have signed 14 players so far for the 2013 campaign and Kenny hopes to complete an 18/19 man squad in the coming weeks: “I’m looking at bringing in four or five more players. I am very happy with the depth of talent in the squad so far. There is a lot of technical ability in the squad and they are all very skillful players. They also have a very good attitude and some hope to further their careers in the UK at some point. We also have some of last year’s squad returning. Stephen McDonnell and Eoghan Osborne were injured a lot last season. Stephen has done a lot of work in pre-season to come back stronger than ever.”
Speaking about his backroom team, Kenny explained his reasons for the appointment of Vinny Perth into his coaching staff. “Vinny is a tremendous character who I have known for a long time. He was actually one of the first players I ever signed when I was manager of Longford many years ago. He’s a very passionate individual who has a lot of experience from coaching at Longford and management at Malahide United. He had a great career at a player and I know he had a season here near the end of his career. I trust him 100%. Vinny is part of my plans to bring the right characters to Oriel Park. We need committed individuals here at the club because we have a very tough season ahead. Every club is going to be strong this year so we really need to believe in ourselves.”
Also part of Kenny’s team is 28 year old Dubliner Graham Byrne. “Graham has a lot of experience in football and will help us with strength and conditioning. He is head of fitness at DCU and also works with a number of Irish Olympic atheletes. It’s great to have him on board as he is a top professional and will be a positive influence in the dressing room”.