Handshake snub a glimpse into the fallout between former double act

“From a player’s point of view there would be no animosity,” O’Donnell said after the 0-0 draw between St Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk.

Happier times for O'Donnell (left) and Mathews.
Happier times for O'Donnell (left) and Mathews.

BY THE TIME a video began to emerge of Stephen O’Donnell appearing to reject Alan Mathews’ offer of a handshake at full time on Friday night, the Dundalk head coach had completed his post-match media duties.

Ironically enough, they were carried out in the directors’ box at Richmond Park, where more than a few people at St Patrick’s Athletic remain unhappy about the manner of his departure for Oriel Park in the days after winning last season’s FAI Cup final.

A fair chunk of the 4,000-plus crowd in Inchicore also voiced their displeasure – as well as unfurling banners comparing their former boss to a snake – but, by and large, things did not cross the line.

“There was nothing untoward at all. It was just a good atmosphere,” O’Donnell admitted afterwards.

The fallout from his departure is old news at this stage, all parties should be looking to the future, but as this was the first meeting since the acrimony began the senses were stirred.

stephen-odonnell Dundalk boss Stephen O'Donnell. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The video which circulated after the final whistle would suggest the relationship between O’Donnell and Mathews has soured, a shame given the pair worked so well in unison.

At first it simply seemed to be means to an end given O’Donnell has yet to complete his coaching badges and the club required a fully-qualified manager as figure head.

Mathews stepped in, and the arrangement was successful as the young coach was given the platform to rejuvenate St Pat’s.

Even the most ardent supporter could not argue at the progress made.

dundalk-supporters Dundalk fans show their support for their new boss. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“From a player’s point of view there would be no animosity,” O’Donnell added after the 0-0 draw.

“Our lads, the St Pat’s lads or the boys I had here last season who are here, definitely not looking like that. I wish them nothing but good, they are all great lads and I wish them all the best in their careers.

“From a spectator point of view I think the supporters were in tune with the game and supporting their team.”

Dundalk have now lost just once in their last nine games and conceded only two goals – both penalties – in their last seven, yet six of them have ended in draws.

“You’d like to think you’d have a number of victories in those matches. That’s the positive side of it but we just have to get a little bit more cohesive,” O’Donnell explained.

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“There’s nothing ever wrong with our endeavour, work ethic wise, but we have really good players and we need them to believe that they are really good players and realise how good they are.

“As a staff we certainly believe in them. Ultimately, we want to be coming to venues and winning game.”

nathan-shepperd-after-the-game Dundalk goalkeeper Nathan Shepperd. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

They wouldn’t have got a point from Richmond Park if it wasn’t for two superb second half saves from Nathan Shepperd.

The Wales Under-21 international denied Eoin Doyle, and O’Donnell praised his ability to react to disappointment.

“He’s doing well. He has a good mentality, Nathan. I think you need to have a good mentality, especially as a young keeper. He has that. We played on the Friday, probably not his fault but he gave the peno away against Shelbourne.

“The way he bounced back from a mental standpoint on the Monday against Shamrock Rover, he made some great saves. That gave me a good idea and inkling of what he’s made of from a character standpoint.

“He’s continued that on and been very good. He’s had numerous clean sheets so far this season and that will do his confidence the world of good.”

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