Soccer

Soup in Donegal, the local twang and puddles on the agenda at new Dundalk FC owners' premiere

A lighter look at Sunday night's meeting at Oriel Park

Caoimhín Reilly

Reporter:

Caoimhín Reilly

Email:

caoimhin.reilly@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Soup in Donegal, the local twang and puddles on the agenda at new Dundalk FC owners' premiere

Fred Spencer, Jordan Gardner, Stephen Kenny and Mike Treacy pose for a photograph at Sunday night's event at Oriel Park's Youth Development Centre. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)

Two particular statements stood out at Sunday night's meeting of Dundalk FC's new owners and the locals.

One came from manager Stephen Kenny in a full-blooded speech as he recalled how he was appointed in late 2012. "It's well documented that Andy and Paul came to Donegal, we had soup and the rest is history."

Staunch supporter Nicky McCourt provided the other quirky quip. In another wide-ranging exclaim, McCourt, having thanked the outgoing owners, Andy Connolly and Paul Brown, and welcomed the incoming Peak6 investors, said that he hoped the new owners "would be here long enough to acquire Dundalk accents."

Both remarks drew belches of laughter from the large crowd in attendance and offer a sample of the night in general.

There weren't any rash statements made or any controversy risen. In fact, it went to script with the predictable questions being followed by conservative answers.

Incoming CEO Malachy Brannigan drew cheers for his comment that Cork had merely taken a lend of the league title for a year, while Mike Treacy - the 30-year-old Chicago man who will chair the new board at Oriel Park - offered words to put some of the sceptics at ease. The question being, would they pull out if the going got tough?

"The plan is to win and re-invest and to win and build some more. We do want to build great infrastructure and we are going to leverage our success and make this not just the best club in Ireland, but the most dominant club in Ireland."

With several supporters keen to hear of the immediate plans for 'The Home of Football' and its improvement, Treacy saw it as an opportunity to get the crowd onside with a joke, saying that the puddle in front of the YDC would need addressing.

But, on a serious note, while it is in their plans, the immediate concern of the owners is to get on-field matters to their peak.

"We will look in the long term at the stadium, but if we don't have a first-class team, coached by Stephen (Kenny), there's nothing after that," said investor Fred Spencer. The Englishman, formerly a football agent, founded New-York-based investment group, Kicking Capital.

As expected, their commitment to the project was furthermore stressed, as too was their intentions to interact with the local community. Volunteer involvement was another topic touched upon, with Brannigan saying that this is something that they are keen to maintain.

However, one question stood out above all those that came from around the floor, where approximately 300 gathered. It was, 'if we get to Europe, will we have to go to Tallaght (for the home matches)?'

"Not if we can help it," said Brannigan, who elaborated that temporary seating arrangements would be an option should that satisfy UEFA's requirements.

It was only at the end of the 40-minute interaction that the significance of the remarks by Kenny and McCourt resonated. Their words sum up the whirlwind adventure that the club have been on, from rags to riches essentially. Kenny was appointed, unbelievable success followed and now the club are ready to enter into what the manager calls 'a new chapter'.

Nicky may never hear them talk about 'Drawda' or saying 'c'mon da town', though the indications are that he may see more silverware and memorable occasions under the watchful eye of the new proprietors.