Bad news for Mahon as top names seek new pastures
PETE Mahon has begun the process of putting together a Drogheda United squad for 2018 but is doing so in the knowledge that most of last season’s squad have already expressed a wish to leave.
Fifteen out-of-contract players, many of them regular starters this year, have placed themselves on the PFA Ireland website’s transfer list as they put themselves in the shop window for a new club, perhaps hoping to remain in the Premier Division.
The news scuppers the manager’s stated hope of persuading at least a dozen members of the 2017 panel to stay with Drogheda, with only eight of the squad that finished the Premier campaign seemingly open to continuing their careers at United Park.
Most or all of those are players who Mahon would have wanted to keep - Thomas Byrne, Stephen McGuinness, Dave Mulcahy, Conor Kane, Stephen Meaney, Mark Doyle, Jamie Hollywood and sub goalkeeper Harry Hogan.
However, he will be disappointed to see last season’s top scorer Chris Mulhall (top) on the transfer list, while prominent players such as Sean Brennan (centre), Luke Gallagher, Colm Deasy, Stephen Dunne, Adam Wixted (bottom), Jake Hyland, Richie Purdy and Ryan McEvoy are also included along with Shane Elworthy, Kevin Farragher, Sean Russell, Jack Bayly, Ryan Masterson and the long-serving Lloyd Buckley.
The manager also confirmed that veteran former international star Stephen Elliott has returned to live and play in the UK, and that Gavin Brennan and Ciaran McGuigan won’t be on his radar for 2018.
Mahon reacted to news of the want a ways with a mixture of disappointment and resignation, and the situation means he will have to act quickly in the coming weeks to put a squad together.
‘I’m a bit surprised that 15 players are on the open transfer market expressing a wish to join a new club,’ the manager began, speaking on Sunday evening.
‘I can understand in that they’re not contracted, but I'm kind of disappointed that some of the players who are on the list I had already spoken to and they had expressed a wish to stay in Drogheda.
‘Initially I was annoyed, but when I thought about it there’s no affiliation to a club now and players just come and go. The younger players I’m more annoyed about because because I gave them a chance aand I thought they should hhave come back to me first, bbut that’s the way life is.
‘I’m especially pleased that Stephen McGuinness and Dave Mulcahy aren’t on the [transfer] list. Stephen is a vvery, very good keeper and Mulcahy is very important to us because of his experience, his presence and he is so positive towards the situation.
‘People talk about age and it does get to a stage where it becomes an issue, but he seems to be a bit of a freak inn that he defies logic in the way he just keeps playing and playing and looking after himself.’
Having spent a short break iin Spain last week, Mahon now faces a race against time to begin putting together a squad, with the new season due to begin on February 16th and pre-season training likely to start in the first week of January.
‘I was hoping to speak to players before the end of the season and to be in a position to offer terms, but I did speak to the chairman on Saturday and now I have to try and get my finger out and do some work,’ he continued.
‘The season was only over two weeks ago, but a lot of clubs have been very busy, especially Cork, and it’s a very, very short break. After the next couple of weeks we’re into Christmas, we’ll be training in very early January and the players will have to have their gym programmes before that.’
The younger players I’m more annoyed about because I gave them a chance and I should they should have come back to me first, but that’s the way life is.
Pete Mahon will have to re-build his Drogheda United squad for the First Division.