Macdara Ferris outlines the new coaching structure at Dundalk and why Vinnie Perth coming in to effectively lead the League of Ireland champions is likely to be more of a success than when the 2011 champions replaced their coach.
Dundalk are set to confirm their coaching ticket for 2019 this side of Christmas. The announcement is imminent that Vinny Perth will move up to fill the space in the Oriel Park dugout due to the departure of Stephen Kenny.
Perth, the club’s current assistant manager, will become the Head Coach with John Gill as first team coach. This arrangement is due to Perth not having the required Pro Licence to become manager. Gill, who has the necessary coaching qualifications, managed Dundalk previously winning the First Division title at Dundalk in 2008 and has also worked with Perth previously.
The combination of Perth and Gill will be looking to continue the Lilywhite domination that Stephen Kenny, with Perth at his side, masterminded at Dundalk - four league titles in five seasons, along with two doubles, plus the successful qualification for the Europa League group stages.
It was a somewhat similar replacement scenario in December 2011 for the then reigning league champions Shamrock Rovers when they had to replace their manager – and it didn’t go well in Tallaght for a variety of reasons. However the appointment of Kenny's replacement in different circumstances to Michael O’Neill’s departure from Rovers means Dundalk are more likely to continue with their trophy winning era.
While the Hoops back then hadn’t dominated the domestic game quite like Dundalk, Rovers won back-to-back titles plus made the Europa League under O’Neill to suggest a dynasty was being built in Tallaght.
The timing of O’Neill’s departure in mid-December 2011, meant that rival managers had done most of their transfer business leaving the incoming manager – ironically a certain Stephen Kenny - playing catch up in the transfer market. This was particularly costly with the goalkeeping situation.
There are no such problems for Dundalk who this week signed the highly regarded Aaron McCarey who joins their goalkeeping team to work alongside incumbent Gary Rogers (Gabriel Sava has departed by Bray Wanderers).
When Shamrock Rovers returned for the new campaign in 2012, it was without some crucial players from the previous successful seasons - Enda Stevens, Karl Sheppard, Pat Sullivan and Dan Murray.
Dundalk have in previous year’s had to similarly cope with the departure key players – with some of their best leaving at the end of each season; players such as Richie Towell, Pat Hoban, Andy Boyle, Daryl Horgan, and David McMillan.
However, the new owners at Oriel Park, Peak6 have provided sufficient funds that Dundalk have retained their high value players for next year with some crucial re-signings (Robbie Benson and Dane Massey) and have also now strengthened their squad.
The other issue that didn’t help the Hoops in 2012, was that a rival manager was coming in to a very successful dressing room. When Stephen Kenny arrived at Rovers from Derry City, there was some bad blood between him and some of the players in the dressing room.
It wasn’t quite like Brian Clough coming into Leeds United and telling the players to ‘throw all their medals in the bin’ but when the Rovers 2012 squad photo was taken, there were two shots; one with the squad and the coaching staff and another with the 2011 trophies but without the Kenny and his coaching team.
Kenny said previously about that squad shot that he ”didn’t want to be taking credit from Michael O’Neill’s work with having the two trophies sitting there by my knees.”
That won’t be the case for Perth who was an instrumental in Dundalk’s unprecedented success in recent years, alongside Gill who has managed Dundalk previously. 42-year-old Perth knows the club inside and out. He was a player in Oriel Park for the 2007 season and having worked in management at Longford Town and Malahide United (on a coaching ticket with John Gill at the north Dublin club), he became Dundalk’s first team coach in 2013.
Dundalk will begin the 2019 season with a trip to Leeside to take on Cork City in the President’s Cup on 9 February and their first league game of the season is against Sligo Rovers in Oriel Park on 15 February.