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Perth rules himself out of running for Northern Ireland U21 job

The Dubliner is understood to have spoken to the IFA about the vacancy.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

DUNDALK HEAD COACH Vinny Perth has ruled himself out of the running for the Northern Ireland U-21 job.

The Dubliner, who only returned to Oriel Park four weeks ago having been sacked last August, is understood to have spoken to the IFA about the vacancy.

However, speaking ahead of his side’s UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round first leg tie against Levadia Tallinn in Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night, Perth said he was firmly committed to the Co Louth outfit despite only being on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

“I’m in the job four weeks and before that I applied for a lot of jobs,” he said when asked about the role currently being filled by Andy Crosby on a caretaker basis.

“I’ve been offered some jobs but as it currently stands what has happened in the last four weeks is these players and the commitment levels that they’ve shown to me and to the team means that I have no intentions of walking away from this group. I’m here to fight for them between now and the end of the season,” he said.

Perth’s return to the Lilywhites – who he guided to the league title in 2019 – has coincided with an upturn in fortunes at the Co Louth club. The side have taken 10 points from a possible 15 on offer since the 44-year-old’s return last month while they also recorded their biggest aggregate European victory in their history in beating Newtown AFC of Wales in the first qualifying round.

That has set up a a repeat meeting with Levadia – who Dundalk beat over two legs in 2018 – with the prize for the winner being a third qualifying round tie against Dutch side Vitesse.

While there is more improvement required to help Dundalk progress both in Europe and domestically, Perth says the commitment shown by players since his reappointment on June 17th has convinced him to remain loyal to the group.

“People questioned whether I was the right man to come back into this dressing room. I didn’t answer that. The players did. They’ve been absolutely outstanding for me,” he said.

“There’s no way between now and the end of the season bar Jose Mourinho offering me his assistant manager’s job or whatever am I going anywhere. I’m here to fight for this group between now and the end of the season and hopefully if we continue to do what we’re doing that this club has a big future ahead of them with myself and some of those players in the background.

“I can’t be any more clearer than that. My commitment is to Dundalk for now until the end of the season minimum and hopefully longer than that.”

Perth admitted he was aware of the Northern Irish U-21 job but hinted his preference was to remain at Oriel Park, even if he had no assurances at present that he was in American owners’ PEAK6′s long-term plans beyond the end of this seaosn.

“I did (know about it) like any other job but it’s gone now because I’m in a different situation and I’m committed to Dundalk Football Club.

“I won’t be the next Northern Ireland manager. I’ll be the Dundalk manager between now and December 31st.”

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Regarding a possible extension of his current deal, Perth said: “I think it will be reviewed in the short term in terms of where we go. I don’t think it’s an end of season thing.

“I think what we’ve done in the last four weeks is steady the ship. We haven’t turned it around or miraculously become this great team or club again but what we’ve done is steady the ship a little bit and shown what we can do.

“We’ve shown the potential in some of our players here that were written off by even people in the club – rightly so maybe a month or six weeks ago. We’ve shown the potential of the group and we’ve started to have some internal discussions as to what the next steps are but it’s only early days and over the next very short term we’ll make longer term decisions as a club. Whether that includes me or not I don’t know but that’s because they’re not finished or finalised yet.

“I see a bright future for the club but I’ve nothing concrete to confirm on that at the moment,” he said.

Dundalk are hopeful of having Greg Sloggett (back) and the trio of Sean Murray, Cameron Dummigan and Patrick Hoban (all Covid-19) back in contention for Thursday’s first leg, which gets underway at 8pm.

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James Rogers

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