CHAM­PI­ONS AGAIN!

Dun­dalk man­ager Stephen Kenny, cen­tre, with Gary Rogers and Michael Duffy af­ter his side clinched the SSE Air­tric­ity League Premier Divi­sion ti­tle in Oriel Park last Fri­day.

The Argus - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES ROGERS

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VINNY Perth be­lieves the cur­rent Dun­dalk side will be re­mem­bered as one of the best the League of Ire­land has ever seen.

Some crit­ics have claimed that the cur­rent side are not as good as the one which reached the group stages of the Europa League in 2016 de­spite the fact they have won the league with more points and by scor­ing more goals, even with three games to go.

Wor­ry­ingly for the chas­ing pack, Stephen Kenny’s as­sis­tant also feels that there are more ti­tles to come from this group too.

‘That feel­ing has been an­noy­ing me of late,’ he said of the crit­i­cism.

‘You can’t com­pare eras and you can’t com­pare dif­fer­ent teams. I’d love to see the team of 2016 against this team be­cause it would be some game and I don’t know who’d win. There are dif­fer­ent styles.

‘Peo­ple look back with rose-tinted glasses at stuff from pre­vi­ous years but we’ve won the league this year in a man­ner which says this team has to be up there with all the great teams that have won a league.’

While Dun­dalk will un­doubt­edly add to their squad in the off-sea­son, Perth in­sisted the ba­sis for the side’s suc­cess was hard work and nur­tur­ing tal­ent.

‘We’ll strengthen if there is some­one that can im­prove the team,’ he said.

‘Peo­ple out­side the club have al­most stopped talk­ing about the foot­ball. It’s all about the money and the Amer­i­cans and so forth but ul­ti­mately our back four is made up of Sean Gan­non, Brian Gart­land and Dane Massey who have been there from the very first day and no one else wanted them at the time and we did so that whole ar­gu­ment is non­sense. I sup­pose it’s the world of so­cial me­dia where peo­ple are voic­ing more opin­ions than we’ve ever heard but this team and this man­ager are right up there with the best there has ever been.

‘We play a slightly dif­fer­ent way than we did in 2016 and in that year we didn’t have Richie Tow­ell who had been phe­nom­e­nal the year be­fore so how can you com­pare all the teams? It’s a great dis­cus­sion but it ul­ti­mately makes no dif­fer­ence. We’ve got to keep adding league ti­tles to our list and get closer to be­ing the best club in the coun­try.’

Af­ter miss­ing out on the ti­tle last sea­son, Perth said this year’s suc­cess was one of the best he has en­joyed.

‘The first one meant so much be­cause it was the start of ev­ery­thing. The style in which we won the 2016 one in terms of hav­ing to go to the well meant a hell of a lot but I think this one is spe­cial.

‘I think good man­agers win leagues and I think great man­agers win many leagues. I don’t know the right word for some­one who re­builds a team and wins a league. Apart from the big night here when we beat Cork this is the next best for me.

‘I’m re­ally lucky be­cause in my opin­ion I work with the best man­ager there ever has been. Peo­ple talk about coaches and how good or bad they are but I’ve worked with po­ten­tially the best group of play­ers who have ever been at this club so I’m a lucky boy. We’ve got the re­wards for that over the last four or five years but it’s not over.’

This Fri­day Dun­dalk re­turn to the RSC to face Water­ford at a venue where a ma­jor turn­ing point came in their sea­son fol­low­ing a team meet­ing af­ter the 2-1 de­feat in early May - a re­sult which was soured fur­ther by cap­tain Stephen O’Don­nell’s leg break. For Perth it was just one of many turn­ing points in a long year.

‘I don’t think it’s any se­cret that we had a big chat that night where a lot of peo­ple spoke up but I think there has been a lot of key mo­ments.

‘There was a win­ner here against Water­ford late on in the sea­son and a lot of other key mo­ments. I have my own where I think I know where the league swung.’

Asked what that was, the for­mer Long­ford Town player said: ‘It’s some­thing that hap­pened within the club and I think that’s when I knew we were go­ing to win the league but there are a lot of turn­ing points over a sea­son.

‘We are the best team in the coun­try. The league ta­ble backs that up but I have felt that for the last five years. We just left one league ti­tle be­hind us but we’ll kick on again now,’ he said.

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