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