A week of celebration culminated in a euphoric night at the Lisdoo on Saturday as players, staff and supporters of Dundalk FC came out in force to celebrate the club’s Player of the Year awards.
The ceremony capped off another wonderful day for everybody associated with the club. On Saturday afternoon, despite torrential rain, large numbers came out to greet the squad as they made their way through the town in an open top bus with the SSE Airtricity League and EA Sports Cup trophies on show.
And speaking to The Dundalk Democrat at the awards night in the Lisdoo, Lilywhites boss Stephen Kenny said that those kind of events would live long in his memory.
“Today was a great day and it shows the great passion there is in Dundalk. When you organise open top buses the law of probability is that the heavens will open up but it didn’t deter a lot of people.
“Great numbers came out, even though it’s a week after we won the league. The optimum time to maybe have done that would’ve been a day or two after winning the trophy but we weren’t preparing things like buses in the run up to the game with Cork City. We weren’t tempting fate.
“Tonight, the players and staff had an intimate meal before we arrived here to spend the night with the supporters. The whole day has been absolutely fantastic.”
The outpouring of emotion, both at the Lisdoo and the Square earlier in the day, showed just how much the people of Dundalk love this team. Award winners like Chris Shields, Patrick Hoban and Daryl Horgan received their awards to rapturous applause and cheers and Kenny said he was proud that his team had captured the imagination of so many people.
“It’s one thing to win the title but to win it in such style is another thing. My playing philosophy as a manager has probably cost me a few trophies in the past but I regret nothing. That’s the way my teams play. I think people have been moved and inspired by the football we play and they look forward to watching it.
“That’s a big thing for me,” he continued. “Winning the league is great because there is so much involved in it and everybody gets rewarded but the manner in which you win it is even more important. We want every player to be comfortable on the ball in every area of the pitch, to be brave on the ball and to be able to pass the ball. The players have shown the confidence to do that and the level of skill has been very high.”
Kenny feels that winning the league title will only fuel the belief and hunger in his young players. One challenge already in front of the group is to retain the title, a feat that has eluded every title winning Dundalk team in the past.
“As well as that, the team that has won the title in the past three years haven’t even finished in the top two the following season,” remarked Kenny.
“I think this win will only build confidence,” he added. “We want to get better. We’ve signed some good players back already but we are unsure of a few key ones. That’s my priority at the moment. The next few weeks are what will define us for 2015 so we’ve a bit of work to do still.”
Speaking about his own future, Kenny, who has one-year remaining on his existing deal, said he would be willing to extend his stay at Oriel Park, if the club wanted him to do so.
“You have to be asked first,” he smiled. “I haven’t been asked yet but if it comes up I’ll definitely discuss it.”
It’s safe to say he should expect a phone call soon.