Nobody wanted me to leave, but I just felt it was time to move on - Kevin Doherty on departure from Shelbourne

Wed, Feb 14 2018

Kevin Doherty during his time in charge of Shelbourne. Credit: Steve Alfred

Most notable for his association with Shelbourne (player, coach, assistant manager and boss), Kevin Doherty is now Tim Clancy’s number two at Drogheda United. In a recent chat with, Kevin talks about his playing career, management and hopes for the 2018 season.


Moving from Home Farm Everton to Liverpool in 1998, Doherty was involved with Brian Kerr’s Republic of Ireland U-18s, but missed out on the following year’s UEFA European Championship for that age group, in Sweden, due to a broken leg: “I was devastated, as I’d played most of the qualifiers. Liam Miller would have featured in those games, so I’ve been thinking about those times a lot lately. It happened in a warm-up tournament in Holland, preparing for Sweden. I asked our doctor in the ambulance: ‘What about Sweden?’ and he said: ‘No’, but I didn’t know how bad it was, as I was morphined up to the heavens. Little did I know that I had a fractured femur.”


The young defender stayed on Merseyside until the summer of 2001, his remaining Anfield spell littered with further injuries: “I was playing in the reserves and training with the first team. Whether I was going to be good enough, I don’t know because it’s a massive club. Even then, you’re competing with people from all over. I was about to move from the academy to the first team full-time, when I broke my leg.”


Upon release, the Irishman could have stayed in England, but opted for a reunion with his former Home Farm manager Dermot Keely at Shelbourne: “Being out for so long, I wasn’t keen to go home, but Shels were going full-time and Dermot impressed me.  They were near the top of the table and playing in Europe. I wasn’t coming back to be part-time and that’s what swung it.”


While at Tolka Park, Kevin won the Premier Division title on three occasions: “The first was the year I came back. It was the time of the St Pat’s and Paul Marney affair, with points deducted. It wasn’t tainted, but some people still don’t consider us as league winners, but I know we were. The second time, two years later, I played in most of the games. The third was when we had the famous European run, but I missed lots of games that season. I played enough to get a medal, but it still wouldn’t be my favourite. The first time’s nice, but there was no controversy with the second.”


Despite this success, Doherty was transfer listed at the end of 2004 and with a year remaining on his contract, went on loan to Waterford United the subsequent season: “Bohs and Drogheda were in for me, but Ollie Byrne wouldn’t let me go to either. Waterford’s Alan Reynolds was an up-and-coming player/manager and we started off well, but died off midway. When Pat Dolan came in, we stayed up.”


Kevin joined Longford Town in 2006 and during his second season, the midlands outfit finished FAI Cup runners-up, but lost their Premier Division status: “I remember thinking that I’d better get a job if I’m going part-time. I never had one, but got a start with An Post ... 12 years later, I’m still a postman. We got relegated, but not on the pitch. Points were deducted for financial reasons and we would have finished mid-table otherwise.”   


The Dubliner also turned out for Bray Wanderers for a solitary season in 2008 before re-joining Shelbourne: “Eddie Gormley was manager … Another good part-time set-up and we finished comfortably in the league. Eddie offered me another contract, but I knew that I’d be retiring in a year or two and wanted to go back to Shels, even though I dropped down a division.”


On return to Shelbourne, Doherty got through the first season, but shy of his 30th birthday in 2010, he called it quits for good: “We were playing in Wexford against a young side and I knew I wasn’t at the correct level or able to do myself justice. Going home, I made my mind up and felt massive relief because I had a fistful of tablets just to get me through sessions. I’ve never regretted it because I would have tainted my memories.”


After playing his last game, Kevin turned to coaching, which culminated in becoming Shelbourne manager at the end of the 2014 campaign … A position he stayed in for 18 months:


“We did okay with what we had. It was never going to be easy to go back up because of our financial situation. I signed lads on very little and couldn’t get players that would almost guarantee promotion.  It’s a tough job, but one I loved. I had a strong bond with the club, supporters and the chairman was excellent to me. The reason I left was that I thought it was a difficult task to get promoted and didn’t just want to see out a mid-table finish. Nobody wanted me to leave, but I just felt it was time to move on.”


Currently, Doherty is looking forward to the 2018 First Division campaign as assistant manager to Drogheda United’s rookie boss Tim Clancy: “I’m happy to be an assistant and do everything I can to help Tim. My hope is that we do a good job and I’m impressed with things so far. He’s only just finished playing, but has a good knowledge of the game. Obviously, last year getting relegated was disappointing, but we’re trying to build, reconnect with the community and bring young lads through. It’s more of a project than bouncing straight back up.”