Dundalk as it Happens
Kenny’s 2020 vision for Dundalk revealed after contract extension
Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny has spoken of his desire to progress things further at Oriel Park after signing a contract extension this afternoon which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2020 season.
Since taking over the helm at the Lilywhites in November 2012, the 45-year-old has overseen an unprecedented period of success in the club’s history – guiding them to three league titles, an EA Sports Cup, an FAI Cup, a Leinster Senior Cup, a President’s Cup and taken them to the group stages of the Europa League where Dundalk became the first Irish club to win a group stage game in Europe.
While a record-equaling fourth league title looks out of the question this year, the manager has already began building for next season and told dundalkfc.com that he believes he can bring further glory to the North East.
“We have had to rebuild the team this season. We have lost some good players but I am excited by the players that we have brought in this season. We have some excellent talent under the age of 22 at the club.
“Sean Hoare, Michael Duffy, Jamie McGrath, Dylan Connolly. Steven Kinsella has been injured so we are yet to see the best of him. He is only 18 but they are all exciting players. Next season we will see a big improvement in them all. They are all settled in now and starting to excel.
“These players will be better over the next few seasons.
“I am excited by the way the team is shaping up. I think we are shaping up very well. There’s going to be a tough challenge over the next few seasons from several clubs. There will be several clubs in contention for honours. ”
European nights have been plentiful with 20 European matches in the past three years and the stage of Europe is something which motivates Kenny. He says that being seeded for the Champions League and aspiring to play in a packed Aviva Stadium is something he is aiming for at the club.
“I have been informed that if we can win the league next year and get through two rounds of the Europa League that we will be a seeded team in the Champions League going forward. Our co-efficient has improved because of our European results.
“I am motivated by that. As a manager I want to manage at the highest level. In order to do that at Dundalk, we have got to aspire to get back into the group stages of European competition.
“We have to have that ambition. I think our ambition overall is to have packed Aviva Stadiums. If Ciaran Kilduff’s shot off the crossbar had gone in against Rosenborg we would have been there last week against Celtic in a full Aviva.
“Last year we had it against Legia Warsaw. We want those special nights, they are tremendous. We should aspire to have that. In Ireland it’s not something we have had. We should have it – our national stadium full for European games. We should have that aspiration to have that and the determination to achieve that.”
On his decision to stay, Kenny insisted it was a big decision but said he is intent on progressing the club on and off the field with plans coming together for the development of Oriel.
“Oriel Park has stood still here. There is plans for the Development Centre. We are looking at putting a sports science room in it, we are going to put in a medical department and a video analysis department. These are all new developments and we are looking at putting them in there.
“We want to progress as a club. We haven’t moved too quickly as a club because our success has been quite rapid. I have been the only full-time member of staff as such up to now and we need to improve to get better.
“We have to work harder to get better. A lot of the teams will be strong again next year. We have got to work harder. We have to have a high work ethic. We have a lot left to play for this season.
“We want players to want to be a part of what we are doing here. We want players to want to be a part of the big European games. You can’t get that everywhere. Some of the big league wins have been special and we want players to want to be part of that.
“There’s a passionate home support here. We are enthused by people wearing Dundalk FC gear all through the town. When I came into it four years ago there was very few people wearing any Dundalk gear.
“Now there’s people wearing tracksuits, jersey’s, all the gear. It’s a great thing and certainly we want the team to get better now and to continue to compete for trophies. ”
Read the full interview on www.dundalkfc.com