AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport
After nine years of service at Dundalk FC which included winning no less than five Premier Division titles, three FAI Cups, three league cups, two Presidents Cups, a Leinster Senior Cup and the inaugural Unite Cup John Mountney will return to Oriel Park on Saturday once again finding himself in a team sitting pretty on top of the table. However, this season the Mayo native has swapped the Lilywhites for the Saints with the twenty-eight-year-old adapting well in his new role as full-back under former Dundalk teammate and current St.Pat’s coach Stephen O’Donnell. Speaking to the media at an online press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mountney played down his return to Oriel Park by insisting he hadn’t really thought about it as St.Pat’s continue to take it one game at a time given the impressive unbeaten start to the season.
“To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it, maybe if there were fans I might have more but apart from this week we haven’t really thought about them (Dundalk) at all” commented Mountney who still lives locally in Dundalk despite his move to St.Patrick’s Athletic in the off-season.
Despite the fact St.Pat’s go into Saturday’s game as unbeaten league leaders up against a Dundalk side who appear to be in a little bit of disarray on and off the pitch at present with just one point collected from their four league games, the bookmakers still make the hosts favourites for the three points. Asked if there was pressure on St.Pat’s to take advantage of Dundalk’s slow start and put down something of an early marker Mountney was not in agreement with such a view.
“There’s definitely no pressure on us, our management and staff have installed that belief in us that we can go out and win every game and this game is no different. Their (Dundalk’s) form has nothing to do with it, when you look at the quality they have and that they are at home it should lead to a good game and we’ll be coming up with the same approach we’ve had for every game so far” said Mountney.
An interesting side story to Saturday’s game is the managerial set up at the respective clubs with Stephen O’Donnell in a similar situation to Filippo Giovagnoli in that O’Donnell does not hold a UEFA Pro license meaning former Longford Town supremo Alan Matthews is on hand to assist and lend his vast experience to what is still a relatively inexperienced manager. And from what we’ve seen so far this season that is a partnership and management structure that seems to work quite smoothly and effectively for all involved with the Inchicore outfit. However, in the home dugout at Oriel Park pundits and supporters alike have continued to flag up what appears to be something of a chaotic and generally unclear managerial approach with Shane Keegan often the most vocal member of the coaching staff on the touchline with Filippo Giovagnoli and Giuseppe Rossi often rotating between sitting in the stand and taking a prominent position on the bench. At Wednesday’s press conference John Mountney was keen to stress the many attributes Alan Matthews has brought to the table and how his insight had been of great benefit personally since the transition to the full-back position.
“There’s definitely a good balance there and with Alan, he’s been great for me with playing right-back, it’s a position he’s been able to give myself and the other defenders great insight on so there’s definitely a good balance there with Sean O’Connor as well there’s great knowledge there.”