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Stephen O'Donnell confirmed as new Dundalk boss

It’s official.

Stephen O'Donnell steered St Pat's to FAI Cup glory last month.
Stephen O'Donnell steered St Pat's to FAI Cup glory last month.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

STEPHEN O’DONNELL HAS been confirmed as the new head coach of Dundalk FC.

The former club captain returns to Oriel Park, having most recently been St Patrick’s Athletic boss. O’Donnell confirmed his decision to step down last Friday, just days after steering the Saints to FAI Cup glory, stating: “I understand the club and supporters will be disappointed.”

The 35-year-old also signed off with a second-place finish in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, having generally overseen a considerable improvement in the club’s fortunes since replacing Harry Kenny in 2019.

It was widely reported that he was Dundalk-bound after Vinny Perth’s departure; O’Donnell having previously enjoyed several successful seasons as a player there.

After teasing the announcement on Twitter with a “white smoke” gif this morning, the Lilywhites went on to post a nostalgic video with the caption, “Stevie’s home” and a full article on their website.

Another familiar Dundalk face, former Bray boss Dave Mackey, has been appointed first-team manager — he’ll be the Uefa Pro license holder — while Patrick ‘Padge’ Cregg comes from Richmond Park as O’Donnell’s assistant manager.

“Not only did I play for Dundalk, but I also lived in the town and I know the connection that’s there between the club and the supporters. The mood of the club dictates the mood of the town,” O’Donnell told dundalkfc.com.

“When you have a football-crazy town like that, the potential is massive, and I felt I couldn’t turn this opportunity down. It’s a challenge I’m really excited about, and I can’t wait to get cracking with Dave and Padge now.”

Both Mackey and Cregg also shared their delight, while Dundalk chairman and co-owner Sean O’Connor welcomed the new staff. 

dundalk-fc-head-coach-stephen-odonnell Source: Dundalk FC.

“We believe we have identified and secured a coaching team that will make us very competitive, both next season and beyond,” O’Connor said.

“We have a nice blend of youth and experience which really excites us, and the fact that Stephen and Dave already understand the DNA of Dundalk FC, and know what makes the club tick, is a great starting point.”

“Stephen is the best young coach in this country and to have him back at Oriel Park, where he led us to so many trophies as a player, is fantastic,” Lilywhites co-owner Andy Connolly added.

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“He was paramount to our success during the Stephen Kenny era and is a very special person who is hungry and has the same objectives that we do. I’m sure our fans will be absolutely delighted to see him return.

“Patrick is another coach with a bright future ahead of him and has already built up a brilliant understanding with Stephen over the past couple of seasons at St Patrick’s Athletic.

“It is also great to see Dave Mackey back at Dundalk. Dave has been involved in the League of Ireland for almost 40 years and brings a wealth of knowledge to the role which will be invaluable to Stephen, Patrick, and everyone at the club.”

While Galway native O’Donnell succeeds Perth at the Dundalk helm, Tim Clancy has since filled the void he left at Pat’s, having recently impressed as Drogheda boss.

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