McEleney in line for award

Kenny’s pri­or­ity to keep cur­rent stars as

The Argus - - SPORT - JAMES ROGERS

DUN­DALK’S Pa­trick McEleney is one of three nom­i­nees for the PFAI Player of the Year award which will be handed out at the an­nual awards cer­e­mony in Dublin this Sat­ur­day.

The 25-year-old, who scored 12 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions last sea­son, is up against Derry City’s Aaron McEn­eff and Cork City’s Sean Maguire - now of Pre­ston North End - for the cov­eted award.

If suc­cess­ful, it would be the first time in the 38-year his­tory of the award that a player from the same club has won the award in three con­sec­u­tive sea­sons, fol­low­ing on from Richie Tow­ell’s win in 2015 and Daryl Hor­gan’s last year.

He would also be the first from North­ern Ire­land to win the award since Peter Hut­ton in 1997.

Man­ager Stephen Kenny con­grat­u­lated the mid­fielder on his nom­i­na­tion, say­ing it was just re­ward for ‘pro­duc­ing so many spe­cial mo­ments in the sea­son.’

McEleney was also one of four Dun­dalk play­ers named in the PFAI Pre­mier Di­vi­sion Team of the Year, along­side Sean Gan­non, Ni­clas Vem­melund and David McMil­lan. PFAI TEAM OF THE YEAR: Ger­ard Do­herty (Derry City); Sean Gan­non (Dun­dalk FC), Ni­clas Vem­melund (Dun­dalk FC), Ryan De­laney (Cork City), Trevor Clarke (Sham­rock Rovers); Aaron McEn­eff (Derry City), Pa­trick McEleney (Dun­dalk FC), Gearoid Mor­ris­sey (Cork City); David McMil­lan (Dun­dalk FC), Ro­nan Mur­ray (Gal­way Utd), Sean Maguire (Cork City). DUN­DALK man­ager Stephen Kenny in­sists his pri­or­ity for the close sea­son is to keep hold of the bulk of last sea­son’s squad rather than mak­ing a large num­ber of new ad­di­tions.

With dou­ble win­ners Cork City an­nounc­ing the sign­ings of Barry McNamee, Josh O’Han­lon, Colm Hor­gan, Aaron Barry and Tobi Ade­bayo-Rowl­ing, a num­ber of Li­ly­whites fans have be­come anx­ious about the lack of trans­fer news em­a­nat­ing from Oriel Park.

How­ever, Kenny has pleaded for pa­tience, in­sist­ing: ‘I don’t care what any other club does.’

While nine play­ers - Gary Rogers, Brian Gart­land, Chris Shields, Stephen O’Donnell, Michael Duffy, Jamie McGrath, Dane Massey, Sean Hoare and Dy­lan Connolly - are all com­mit­ted for 2018, Kenny’s pri­or­ity is hold­ing on to the quartet of Sean Gan­non, David McMil­lan, Pa­trick McEleney and Rob­bie Ben­son, all of whom have re­ported in­ter­est from the UK.

Kenny ad­mit­ted it would be a bat­tle to keep all of them but hinted that the club’s im­pend­ing deal with Amer­i­can in­vestors could help con­vince them to re-sign.

‘There is in­ter­est from the UK in some of our play­ers,’ Kenny con­firmed.

‘The play­ers need to un­der­stand that the last few years have been a really ex­cit­ing pe­riod for the club and now we’re look­ing to push on again.

‘To leave Dun­dalk would be a risk in it­self be­cause we’ve had some­thing spe­cial here and with all that is go­ing on be­hind the scenes things could im­prove to an even greater de­gree.’

Kenny said there was ‘no break­ing news’ at present but said he ‘should have a clearer pic­ture by the end of the week.’

He has also be­gan talks with other first-team play­ers, in­clud­ing John Mount­ney who is in Canada at present, and re­fused to say if there would be any de­par­tures from the re­main­der of the squad.

Kenny said he hoped to work with a squad of around 20 or 21 play­ers next year, sup­ple­mented by the club’s un­der­age setup, and while he said he didn’t ex­pect too many ar­rivals he in­sisted that a cen­tral de­fender and cen­tre for­ward would be amongst his pri­or­i­ties. Amongst the play­ers the club are un­der­stood to be in­ter­ested in in­clude Derry City’s Dean Jarvis, Gal­way Utd’s Ro­nan Mur­ray and for­mer striker Pat Hoban, who was top scorer when the club won the league in 2014.

‘Ob­vi­ously we need a cen­tral de­fender as Ni­clas Vem­melund has made the de­ci­sion to go back to Den­mark. We prob­a­bly need a cen­tre for­ward too but ev­ery­thing de­pends on keep­ing the play­ers we have as their de­ci­sions will de­ter­mine how many play­ers we need.

‘If we can keep our best play­ers then I don’t think we need to add

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