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'We've got to put pressure on our TDs... Football is a window for changing the whole country'

Vinny Perth feels both Dundalk and the game in general could do with more political support.

Vinny Perth (file pic).
Vinny Perth (file pic).
Image: Brian Little/INPHO

MANAGERS’ NOTES in the pre-match programme can often be quite bland and full of clichés that really say nothing — but not so in Dundalk boss Vinny Perth’s case.

Ahead of last night’s opener against Derry, Perth wrote of his frustration at the postponement of last week’s President’s Cup final against Shamrock Rovers owing to adverse weather conditions.

The traditional curtain raiser for the campaign, regarded by some, including Perth himself, as a glorified pre-season friendly, would have provided the ideal opportunity to give a run out to players, particularly some of the new signings who needed game time.

The one positive aspect to come from its cancellation, Perth added, was that he got to spend last Sunday relaxing in front of the TV and watching hours of general election coverage.

“Even in our own area, some TDs lost out by the narrowest of margins,” he said. “If they were associated with our club and they were seen helping our club out, would that have made a difference to their numbers?”

He added that the answer was “yes” as far as he is concerned, and that “some politicians missed the boat”.

Asked to elaborate on these thoughts after last night’s game, Perth acknowledged that it has been a bad 12 months for Irish soccer with the various FAI-related controversies, but believes that on the field, significant progress has been made.

“I actually think [the politicians] missed a trick,” he said. “If I was up for election after the last results, there are 3,500 people in the ground here or whatever it is — I’d be standing here letting everyone know who I am.

“The balance of power in this country has changed,” he added. “Fianna Fáil went from mid-40 seats down to 37 on a couple of hundred votes. So the window’s open. We’ve got to put pressure on our TDs. The amount of kids here. Not just young kids, but teenagers. They’re not out on anti-social behaviour, football is a real window for our TDs, so football is a window for changing the whole country.

It’s the most participated in sport. It gets a ridiculous amount of criticism. You see other sports giving out. We shouldn’t have needed the bailout, but at the same time, it’s time the government backed Irish football. The product on the pitch is good, but it’s been forgotten about in the last 12 months, because of the shambles of the administration.”

As regards matters on the field, Perth said he was satisfied with his side’s narrow 1-0 win over Derry — the first time Dundalk have emerged victorious on the opening day since 2017.

“I thought it was a great game, a really good game for the first game of the season. Derry put it up to us. I think they’re better than where they were last year. I thought they were very good. [Tim] Nilsen is a real good striker for them and he gives them a threat in behind. I thought it was two good teams, good fitness levels and they went after each other, so I’m very happy.

“I thought last half an hour, we were really dominant. We probably showed our know-how, a little bit of composure and we didn’t panic. We got the goal and ran out worthy winners in the end.”

Perth said his side were up against it with five players unavailable — Patrick McEleney, John Mountney, Georgie Kelly and Sean Murray are currently out injured, while new signing Stefan Colovic is waiting for his Employment Visa to come through.

Of the 25-year-old Serbian midfielder, whose underage career included stints at Red Star Belgrade and Atletico Madrid, Perth added: “Myself and [assistant boss] Ruaidhrí Higgins at different weeks went to watch [Serbian club FK Proleter Novi Sad]. He’s somebody we’ve targeted. We’ve targeted a few players in that part of the world, because we have to.

We went after people like [Ireland U21 international] Zack Elbouzedi, but he went to Lincoln. It’s somebody different. It’s a different challenge. It’s a risk in one sense, because he doesn’t know our league, but he has got quality. We have to take risks, we can’t just keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Really, that’s what excites me about it, it’s something different. 

“[Tim] Nilsen tonight by the way, how good was he? I don’t want to say we need to bring loads of players into our league, but a couple of new sparks. I remember Joey N’Do and ‘Baba’ Livingstone. It’s what we need, we need to bring a couple more in. The more the better, I think.”

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Paul Fennessy

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