Clancy to stay at Drogs helm re­gard­less of play-off re­sult

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT - MAR­CUS CAVAROLI

THE dust hasn’t yet set­tled on Drogheda United’s play-off sec­ond leg in Tolka Park last night (Mon­day), but al­ready plans are said to be well ad­vanced for next sea­son.

Club chair­man Fi­achra Kier­ans has con­firmed that the three-strong man­age­ment team of Tim Clancy, Kevin Do­herty and Dave Robert­son will re­main at United Park in 2019, and that the process of what he called ‘re-tar­get­ing’ play­ers had al­ready be­gun even be­fore the play-offs com­menced.

‘There will be no change from the top to the bot­tom for next sea­son,’ said Kier­ans. ‘We’ve con­firmed all our un­der­age coaches and we’ve con­firmed Tim, Kevin and Dave Robert­son, so ev­ery­body is in situ.

‘This is the start of a pro­ject and we’re at the be­gin­ning of what we see for the club, and part of that was maybe go­ing with Tim, an un­proven young man­ager who was hun­gry and ticked all the boxes we wanted. Kevin Do­herty was a very as­tute ap­point­ment as well and the two boys have gelled bril­liantly to­gether.

‘When we had that in place with Dave Robert­son, then we had to go and re­struc­ture all our youth sec­tion again. Gareth Do­drill’s done a bril­liant job com­ing in and we didn’t just show play­ers the path­way to the first team, but we’re ac­tu­ally show­ing our youth coaches - who are all A Li­cence coaches - that they can see a path­way to League of Ire­land man­age­ment.

‘They be­lieve that their fu­tures are here with Drogheda. They’ve come from big­ger clubs - Pats, Shel­bourne - and lo and be­hold we’ve had more un­der­age Ir­ish in­ter­na­tion­als than we’ve ever had.

‘There’s huge struc­tural pos­i­tiv­ity now in what we’re do­ing and the fans and the gen­eral pub­lic don’t of­ten see that. I ac­cept that, but long-term what we’re do­ing is very strong.’

Kier­ans, who was speak­ing in ad­vance of last night’s game in Tolka Park - re­sult not avail­able at the time of go­ing to press - agreed that there had been no dis­cus­sions about play­ers’ wages for next sea­son as it wasn’t clear at that stage what di­vi­sion Drogheda would be in.

To­day, fol­low­ing last Fri­day’s 1-0 re­verse against Shel­bourne and last night’s sec­ond leg, the Boy­nesiders are ei­ther cel­e­brat­ing a fa­mous comeback and pre­par­ing for Finn Harps’ visit in the play-off semi-fi­nal first leg on Fri­day (7.45pm) - or lick­ing their wounds and be­gin­ning what will be a long win­ter break fol­low­ing an ag­gre­gate de­feat by Shels.

Ei­ther way, there’s a good chance a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of the 2018 squad will still be at United Park next sea­son.

‘There’s a good ca­ma­raderie among the squad and I think full com­pli­ment should be paid to Pete Ma­hon in that re­spect be­cause they were a lot of his sign­ings,’ Kier­ans pointed out. ‘The play­ers them­selves are very strong to­gether and I don’t get a sense from any of them hugely that there’s any money is­sue.

‘There would be a core of play­ers who would be able to play in ei­ther di­vi­sion and we’ve started re-tar­get­ing play­ers al­ready. Com­pared to other sea­sons where we waited to the last minute, we’re ac­tu­ally get­ting our work done nice and early.

‘We’d all love big­ger wages, but I think they’re en­joy­ing their foot­ball and the fresh­ness of the new man­age­ment team and they en­joy the struc­ture of the club.

‘You can see how much the Un­der-19s are en­joy­ing it and how in­volved they feel within the club. It’s not be­ing run as two sep­a­rate en­ti­ties, which is bril­liant.’

Kier­ans, who had been con­sid­er­ing step­ping down af­ter four years as chair­man, will now lead the club into 2019 and quite pos­si­bly be­yond.

Ex­plain­ing his ap­par­ent change of heart, he said: ‘Be­ing the chair­man of any League of Ire­land club is a full-time un­paid job and I al­ready have a full-time job and the work/life bal­ance wasn’t there.

‘But I had a chat with my co-di­rec­tors and the board of man­age­ment here and they’ve all re­ally upped their game in terms of bet­ter del­e­ga­tion, bet­ter task as­sess­ment, tak­ing more re­spon­si­bil­ity.

‘Also, in terms of the new sta­dium de­vel­op­ment, the FAI would like the cur­rent board to be sta­ble.

‘I said ini­tially I’d give it three years, but we were fire­fight­ing the first sea­son when we came in, with no squad, no man­ager, so it was re­ally writ­ten off. It took the sec­ond sea­son to find our feet, and then Pete go­ing last year threw us into a wee bit of tur­moil again.’

What­ever di­vi­sion Drogheda find them­selves in next sea­son, tight fi­nances are go­ing to be an is­sue, but de­spite meet­ing with Conor Hoey - son of club pres­i­dent Vin­cent Hoey - re­cently, the chair­man isn’t keen to have him in­volved in the run­ning of the club at this stage.

‘We would be util­is­ing Conor’s skills more with an eye on the new sta­dium de­vel­op­ment,’ Kier­ans re­sponded.

‘The board’s job at the minute is to keep the ship sta­ble within the con­fines of United Park. It’s at the end of its life - we ac­cept that - and re­al­is­ti­cally we’re not go­ing to at­tract any sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment while we’re here, but we can start putting the wheels in mo­tion to have that in place for go­ing into the new sta­dium.

‘There’s no point go­ing into the new sta­dium and then say­ing ‘lets go and chase a few quid’. So that would be more Conor’s re­mit than be­ing in­volved in the day-to-day run­ning of the club.

‘He would have con­tacts, but part of the pol­icy that we’re im­ple­ment­ing now is what Conor can be sell­ing to the more se­ri­ous kind of in­vestors who ex­pect a se­ri­ous out­line of how it’s go­ing to be ad­min­is­tered.

‘There’s no point in some­body com­ing in here and putting in €100,000 or €250,000 or €500,000 and then watch­ing it squan­dered, which League of Ire­land clubs have a his­tory of do­ing.

‘If and when that day comes, that won’t be hap­pen­ing with us be­cause we’ve man­aged to prove over the last four sea­sons that we’ve run the club pru­dently and we’re still there.

‘It’s been a mag­nif­i­cent achieve­ment on be­half of all the staff from the board to the play­ing staff and the man­age­ment staff. It takes a huge, huge co­he­sive ef­fort to keep ev­ery­body on board.

‘This sea­son our ob­jec­tive was to reach the play-offs. We’ve reached the play-offs. Wher­ever that takes us, that’s a dif­fer­ent story, but we’ve achieved our ob­jec­tive.

‘We gave a young man­ager learn­ing his trade two sea­sons. That’s all con­firmed, and that was a brave step for any board where fi­nances are tight.’

Luke Gal­lagher closes in on Shel­bourne’s Alan Byrne dur­ing Fri­day’s SSE Airtricity League play-off first leg.

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