Johnny McDonnell will be the man charged with the task of guiding Shelbourne back into the Premier Division next season after the club confirmed he will be in charge at Tolka Park for the 2014 campaign.
The 48-year-old took over the reigns from Alan Mathews in May when the club were five points adrift at the foot of the table and despite some improved performances and results, he couldn’t guide Shels to safety after they won just five games all season.
McDonnell seemed to have galvanised the Reds after taking over as they recorded three victories on the bounce and hauled themselves ahead of Bray Wanderers and within touching distance of UCD. However, just one point from their last ten league games put an end to any hopes of a great escape as their faith was sealed with a game to spare.
Having returned to the top flight two seasons ago following their demotion in 2007, Shels had seemingly consolidated their position in the Premier Division with an eighth placed finish twelve months ago as they looked to restore their former glories.
The board expressed their delight at the news that McDonnell has decided to remain in the dug-out but reiterated the difficulties which relegation will bring.
“Being relegated back to the First Division was never part of the Board of Management’s long term plan for returning the Club to some semblance of its former glory. Returning the Club to the Premier Division as quickly as possible is now the number one objective,” The statement read.
“The wages budget available to Johnny for players and backroom staff in season 2014 will of course be reflective of the reality that gate receipts and most other forms of Club income will be less because the Club must play in the First Division. Despite this, the Board is confident that Johnny’s in-depth experience of football management will enable him to field a team that is both competitive and able to challenge right from the start of the season.”
McDonnell, who enjoyed a playing career in the league of nearly two decades, began his managerial career with Newry Town and Dublin City before taking the role of assistant manager at Tolka Park during the 2003 season. He was soon installed as manager of St. Patrick’s Athletic, where he spent four years in charge before becoming Brian Kerr’s deputy in the Faroe Islands.
He will now begin the process of assembling a squad for the new campaign with discussions ongoing with several of this year’s panel as the club look to make an immediate return to the Premier Division.
In an additional boost, Shelbourne also announced that club sponsor, McAllister Volkawagen, will continue their support next year.