It’s been another crazy week at Oriel Park but Dundalk fans will be hoping that the re-appointment of Vinny Perth will bring some stability to a season that has careered wildly out of control up until now. There are still many question marks over the running of the club and what exactly has changed behind the scenes since the 44-year-old was axed initially just 10 months ago last August.
However, with three games in the next seven days – all of which are in theory winnable on paper – this is a chance to draw a line under what went before and almost start afresh in the hope of building some form to begin climbing the table but also to ensure that the club are in a position to capitalise on their seeding for the Europa Conference League.
It hasn’t been a great time to be a Dundalk supporter. Spoiled by success in recent years, this year has been a divisive one with the fanbase split into several factions and protests outside the ground – whether you agree with them or not – highlighting the sad state the club has got into having stood on top of the League of Ireland’s perch less than two years ago.
Like any appointment, Perth will have his pros and cons but one thing you can’t deny is his enthusiasm and passion for both the club and the job. If he can instil that in his players – starting against his old side Longford Town tonight – then no one doubts the quality that is in that dressing room.
It remains to be seen what sort of support he will have from club owners PEAK6 to strengthen the side or bring in his own coaching staff but that’s a debate for another day.
With Longford visitors to Oriel Park tonight and a Louth Derby on the horizon on Monday, that’s the soul focus right now and it’s almost refreshing that, for once, all talk is about what is going to happen on the pitch rather than off it.
It’s not unfair to suggest that the club has been mismanaged of late but if Perth’s return can lead to an upturn in fortunes then maybe the real low point is already in the rear view mirror.
That said, Dundalk can expect nothing easy against a Longford Town who are at the other end of the spectrum in terms of resources but whose passion and drive has them in another league in that regard.
Ironically, Perth has been present for all three of Longford’s league victories over the Louth men in the league to date.
He played 73 minutes back in August 1999 when Stephen Kenny’s side claimed their first ever win over Dundalk at Oriel Park courtesy of a 66th minute Stevie Gavin strike after Mark Reid had seen his penalty saved by Stephen O’Brien.
He then featured for the full 90 minutes when the Midlanders followed that success up with another 1-0 win in their next meeting in October 1999 at the Strokestown Road when Wes Byrne’s 30 yard strike past John Connolly on the stroke of half-time ended a six-match winning run for Dundalk.
Perth was then in caretaker charge for the last of Longford’s league wins over Dundalk in October 2008. Darren McKenna and Alan Lynch were on target in either half in a 2-1 win at Oriel Park in which Simon Kelly scored a consolation goal for John Gill’s side. Daire Doyle was on ‘De Town’ side that night.
It’s an intriguing battle in store tonight and, no matter what the outcome, it will be interesting to watch how Perth’s second era pans out.
Like many things at Oriel Park of late, you suspect it won’t be dull either way but maybe if it was a bit more bland that wouldn’t be such a bad thing after a rollercoaster few months for a club that now must earn their right to be considered a force in the league once again.