AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
It’s been a winter of change on and off the pitch at Dundalk with undoubtedly the changes in the boardroom of far greater importance and significance with a local consortium wrestling back control of the Louth outfit from unpopular American group Peak6. 2021 was a sitcom season at Oriel Park that we don’t need to revisit so naturally the arrival of Andy Connolly and Statsports on a white horse has been welcomed with great fanfare locally and rightfully so.
It’s clear the new owners intend to return the club to the community and they are already making all the right noises and moves to rebuild the many bridges burned by the previous owners. On the pitch, Stephen O’Donnell is back but this time as Head Coach in what looks a match made in heaven for so many reasons while “Skip” as he’s known by the Oriel Park faithful has ditched the desire of the previous owners to sign exotic players from overseas in favour of finding players who understand the league and will fit the Dundalk FC project.
Also returning to their former stomping ground are Robbie Benson and John Mountney while there’s tones of potential in Paul Doyle, John Martin, and the recent UK arrivals at the club.
Of course, there have been challenges in the off-season with Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleneney, Cameron Dummigan, and Sean Murray all heading North but the re-signing of marksmen Hoban and McMillan means there should be no shortage of goals this season. At the back, this Dundalk team may yet prove a little leaky and with so many changes on and off the pitch, consistency could be an issue.
Domestic dominance and stellar European nights won’t return overnight but with the right structures and personnel in place, there’s no reason this Dundalk team can’t bring the good times back to the Town but don’t expect too much too soon.
BTS PREDICTION: 5th
STAR PERFORMER: Patrick Hoban
ONE TO WATCH: Paul Doyle
For more build-up to the 2022 League of Ireland season, tune in to Between the Stripes LOI podcast’s 2022 Pre-Season Special here.