Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny says that the club’s decision to cancel Ruaidhri Higgins’ contract is down to the fact that Richie Towell has decided to stay at Oriel Park for the season ahead.
Higgins only signed a new deal with the Lilywhites in November but the arrival of Ronan Finn, coupled with Towell’s decision to stay with the league champions, prompted the 30-year-old to ask for a move in a bid to play regular football.
The Limavady man is set to sign a two and a half year deal with Irish League side Coleraine and Kenny said he was reluctant to let the midfielder, who he also worked with at Derry City, depart.
“We allowed Ruaidhri to go based on the fact that Richie is staying,” said Kenny.
“It was a reluctant decision by both parties but sometimes you have to detach sentiment.
“Ruaidhri was very influential for us last year. He made a huge contribution, playing 39 times and he was a prominent member in the dressing room. When he signed a contract before Christmas it looked like Richie was going to leave but Ruaidhri’s position has changed now that Richie is staying. And, with Ronan Finn coming in, Ruaidhri understands we have great options in midfield.”
Kenny said that keeping Towell was a huge coup for Dundalk.
“Richie has had offers from the Championship and from the SPL but they weren’t right for him. To keep him is a massive, massive plus for us,” he said.
“He has been a marvellous player for Dundalk and one of the most influential in the League of Ireland for many years. Last year, he was nothing short of brilliant. He played in nearly 50 games, didn’t miss a training session and it never diluted his performance.”
Elsewhere, Kenny said that there was no update on the Mikey Drennan situation. The Dundalk boss is interested in the Aston Villa striker but he said that Rory Patterson, who officially left Derry City last week, is not on his radar.
The Dundalk squad returned to pre-season on Wednesday but a number of players, including Darren Meenan and Daryl Horgan (groin), Sean Gannon (hip) , David McMillan and Towell (ankle) are still to resume full training. Kenny said that he expects that quintet to be available in two to three weeks.
The Lilywhites play their first pre-season game on February 3 when they visit Irish League outfit Warrenpoint Town.