Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny says that he hasn’t been concerned by the activities of other League of Ireland clubs in the transfer market.
Since beating Dundalk to the Airtricity League title last October, champions St Patrick’s Athletic have added real strength to their squad by signing players such as Irish international Keith Fahey, former Shamrock Rovers trio Mark Quigley, Conor McCormack and James Chambers and ex-Sligo Rovers midfielder Lee Lynch.
Shamrock Rovers, Sligo Rovers, Derry City and Cork City have also been busy during the off-season but Kenny said he was solely focussed on what improvements he could make to his own squad.
“We have signed young players like Sean Gannon, Daryl Horgan and David McMillan. If other clubs are signing ‘Galacticos’, then that is not our concern. If they want to go that route, that is their business. We want to make ourselves better and we’ll forget about everybody else.
“You have to remember that we’re at a different place to other clubs,” he added. “This will be our first year in Europe. Clubs get their strength from being in Europe for four or five years consecutively and the revenue that is associated with that. We have to aspire to be a club that is regularly in Europe, not in one year and then out for two. You won’t grow like that. “
Kenny believes that a fusion of continuity and new blood will help Dundalk push for trophies again.
“At our level you won’t make a dramatic improvement. You have to make marginal improvements all over the park that collectively can make you a better team,” he said.
“The continuity we have from last season will improve us and we have added players with a real cutting edge. Horgan and McMillan will certainly add to our attack, without doubt. They will give us an extra dimension.”
The Dundalk manager was speaking after the first pre-season training session of 2014 on Sunday morning. The first-team squad was put through their paces by Fitness Coach Graham Byrne at Oriel Active and Kenny said the coaching staff were happy with the fitness levels shown by the players.
“Everybody is delighted to be back. There was a lot of enthusiasm this morning and that was great to see,” said Kenny.
“Everybody is hungry. We had a terrific season last year and I think they all want to be fully prepared for when we play Coleraine in the Setanta Cup on February 24. We want to be ready to go for that.
“Pre-season used to be about getting players fit but now you expect players to arrive and pass the tests that we set them. The days of doing long endurance runs in pre-season are over. We want to make sure the players are ready to fly out of the blocks.
“Last year we were only formulating the squad and players were coming in groups of twos and threes. This year we have the core of our squad in on the first day which is great.”
Dundalk begin their pre-season campaign when Wexford Youths visit Oriel Park on Tuesday, January 28.
“That will be one to ease us in”, said Kenny. “We also have the Leinster Senior Cup against St Pat’s, the Jim Malone Cup against Drogheda United and Finn Harps to play so there will be plenty of opportunities for the players to get the match practice that they need.”