Kenny unwilling to discuss details of Dundalk FC departure PICTURE: Peter O'Doherty
Mick Neville is the firm favourite to succeed the departed Stephen Kenny as Dundalk FC manager.
The club’s U19 team coach, who has never managed at senior level, holds the mandatory UEFA Pro Licence to lead a Premier Division outfit; the rudimentary qualification which previous frontrunner Vinny Perth doesn’t have.
Kenny’s loyal lieutenant through his six seasons at the helm, Perth would be expected to remain within any managerial arrangement, with his current contract binding until the end of the 2020 season.
It has been suggested that Neville could work in tandem with the 42-year-old, who would assume the manager’s position upon claiming his Pro Licence.
Former Netherlands striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Jim Magilton, an ex-Northern Irish international who has managed Ipswich Town, have also been linked, as has Bohemians boss Keith Long, a title winner with the Lilywhites in 1991.
Paul Doolin and UCD manager Collie O’Neill are other names to have entered the fray.
Kenny described his opting to leave Dundalk as “an absolute wrench” at his unveiling as Republic of Ireland U21 manager on Monday. He will subsequently follow Mick McCarthy as senior supremo in August 2020.
“We had unprecedented success (at Dundalk),” Kenny said. “There was a tremendous bond with everyone (and) it was a unique period in Irish football history.
“I was reluctant to leave that; being seeded in the Champions League next summer.
“To leave that, it would have had to have been something special and this is something special and something that I couldn’t turn down.”
Asked by The Democrat if the U21 job alone, without the FAI’s contractual commitment to eventually appoint him to the senior role, would have been enough for him to leave the three-season deal he penned with Dundalk in August 2017, Kenny referred to it as a “hypothetical question”.
He confirmed that discussions had taken place over the underage vacancy prior to Martin O’Neill’s sacking as senior boss, without saying if an offer would have coaxed him away.
Dundalk players are believed to have learned of their manager’s departure on social media, whilst attending captain Stephen O’Donnell’s wedding on Saturday.
Kenny informed both the Oriel Park Board and assistant Perth of his exit earlier in the day, but was reluctant to discuss details of those conversations.
FAI CEO John Delaney said on Sunday that no compensation was due to the club.
However, reports since have suggested that Dundalk could receive up to €25,000 for Kenny’s services.
Nevertheless, the 47-year-old explained that the manner of his departure was regrettable, given the close-knit relationship he had with his players and as he will continue to live in the area.
“I would have liked to communicate it better with the Dundalk players, but, logistically, it wasn’t possible and the way things work now, it was out already.
“That’s the modern era.”
From Monday’s exchanges, his drive and ambition for the new role are undoubted, though it leaves the Lilywhites in a tricky situation.
Club chairman Mike Treacy is expected to arrive in from the US this week as the search for Kenny’s successor gets underway.
One player who won’t be available to the new manager is Ronan Murray.
The Mayo native has departed Oriel after a sole season, signing with Sligo Rovers.