McEleney in line for award
Kenny’s priority to keep current stars as
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