Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO Scenes in the Dundalk dressing room after the win.
# Champions
Dundalk's success story and third league title has 'inspired' people, says Kenny
The Lilywhites boss labelled his players a ‘special group’ and also gave credit to the club’s owners and staff after last night’s win.

DUNDALK SECURED THEIR third straight SSE Airtricity League title on Sunday evening – their 12th in total.

After the final whistle, Stephen Kenny paid tribute to his players and staff after the club took a big step en route to completing the double for their second successive season.

Their 2-1 win over Bohemians at Oriel Park meant that the Lilywhites have once again retained their league championship, this time with two games to spare, thanks to goals from centre halves Andy Boyle and Brian Gartland.

As they approach the end of their most gruelling season to date – comprising of a Europa League group campaign and a run to the FAI Cup final in just under two weeks’ time, Kenny and his players can reflect on a season in which their domestic dominance was only served to be enhanced.

“I think they’ve showed that they are a special group of players,” Kenny said. “To lose to Sligo as we did a couple of weeks ago and come back. We’ve had an incredible effort over the season to combine things and play at that level, that level of consistency.

“It’s been a real challenge and our players have been terrific,” he continued. “We’re just delighted to win it, really.”

Seven of the starting XI against Bohs – Gartland, Boyle, Massey, Shields, Mountney, Horgan and McMillan – have been part of all three league triumphs under Kenny. Dundalk’s fixture pile-up has been much talked about in recent weeks and months but Kenny took time to praise his entire squad for their part in getting over the line.

“It’s been a collective effort,” he said, when asked about the impact of close signings Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney. “The two players we’ve brought in, young players that have come in – they’ve been sensational.

The people who run the club have been magnificent. They’re great to work for. They’re good people and they just me go and do my job. They’re very passionate and they enjoy it and it’s great for them as well.

“The players have been magnificent and the staff – Vinny Perth, Graeme Byrne, Steve Williams, Gerry Spain, Ferghal Kerin and others behind the scenes – have been really, really great.”

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Stephen Kenny celebrates Ryan Byrne / INPHO A delighted Stephen Kenny. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Speaking to the media last night just moments after the Oriel Park faithful flooded the pitch in celebration, Kenny admitted he wasn’t yet in a position to say whether this triumph was his or Dundalk’s most satisfying yet.

“I don’t know. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said. “It was just relief to get it done and not to be going again Tuesday and Friday, another quick turnaround. We’re just delighted to do that.

“The joy and the passion around the ground and around the place is great. None of the players can go anywhere. It’s great.

“It’s a different town to a few years ago. People stop you and say that. So, it’s lifted the town. It’s inspired people locally. I don’t take it for granted. I never take anything for granted. I understand the fickleness of it. Every victory I cherish.”

The campaign isn’t over yet. With qualification for the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League still a real possibility, eyes will firmly be set on their trip to St Petersburg next week. Three days later, Cork City await in the FAI Cup final.

The Leesiders are familiar foes these days. Having pipped them to the league title – in no small part to their 2-1 win at Oriel earlier in the month – the sides meet, once again, in the country’s showpiece football occasion at the Aviva Stadium.

“To win one is special and to win the double last year and now to try and win the double-double is unbelievable,” Kenny explained. “Cork have been exceptional. They really pushed us. They forced us to raise their own standards when the beat us in Turners Cross.”

Can they win four in a row? Kenny is non-committal, for the moment. “I just want to enjoy three in a row.”

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Three-in-a-row for Dundalk as Kenny’s men wrap up Premier Division title

As it happened: Dundalk v Bohemians, SSE Airtricity League Premier Division