DFC | Search for Kenny’s successor underway at Oriel Park

Lilywhites determined to get on with business

Dundalk have started the process of identifying and appointing a successor to Stephen Kenny following his shock departure from Oriel Park.

Kenny’s decision took everybody at Oriel Park by surprise. After knocking back advances from the FAI to take over the U21 job, he met members of the club’s hierarchy last week to discuss plans for pre-season and held talks with members of his coaching staff about possible transfer targets.

Despite going public in the Irish Times on Friday morning about his desire to manage the Boys In Green, Dundalk were confident that he was staying put following Mick McCarthy’s appointment.

Things, however, took a turn on Saturday after a meeting with John Delaney at FAI HQ in Abbottstown where a deal to succeed McCarthy in 2020 — thought to have been initially floated on Thursday — was rubber stamped.

Dundalk Sport understands that the FAI did not formally seek permission to open talks with Kenny, who was under contract until the end of the 2020 campaign, and that compensation — if any — will be minimal.

Speaking at the press conference to unveil McCarthy on Sunday, Delaney said that he made contact with Dundalk chairman Mike Treacy on Saturday but at that stage a deal had already been put in place to acquire Kenny’s services.

The Lilywhites boss informed CEO Mal Brannigan that he was leaving the club and notified members of his backroom staff, the majority of whom were at club captain Stephen O’Donnell’s wedding in Galway, about his impending departure.

Vinny Perth, who has been Kenny’s number two since he took the reins at Oriel Park just over six years ago, is believed to have returned from Galway to meet the Dubliner face to face. Perth signed a three-year deal last season and is one of the front runners to replace Kenny, even though he does not hold a pro-licence.

Assistant coach Ruaidhri Higgins, who turned down a move to Derry City recently, is also under contract for the next two seasons and is likely to be part of any new management set-up.

From a playing point of view, Dundalk are entering the Christmas period in a position of strength. New deals for Dane Massey and Robbie Benson are in the pipeline with O’Donnell and Ronan Murray the only squad members currently mulling over their future.

A meeting with players and staff members was held in the Ballymascanlon on Sunday evening — although speculation that Treacy had flown in from Chicago turned out to be wide of the mark — and with pre-season just over five weeks away, the League of Ireland champions are determined to press ahead with business and not become sidetracked by the events of recent days.

Updated: Monday, November 26th, 1:18am.

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