Tallaght man Vinny Perth proud to lead Dundalk to more glory

By Stephen Leonard

DUNDALK manager Vinny Perth spoke to The Echo of his “joy and relief” at seeing his team over the line in the race for the 2019 SSE Airtricity League title.

The Tallaght man, who took charge of the Lilywhites following the departure of the hugely successful Stephen Kenny last year, was elated after seeing his side edge out closest rivals Shamrock Rovers 3-2 in Oriel Park for the club’s fifth title in six seasons.

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Dundalk Head Coach Vinny Perth from Tallaght celebrates winning the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title at Oriel Park on Monday night Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

It was a massive achievement for the team and Perth who was always likely to come under heavy scrutiny following his appointment given that he was replacing one of the most decorated managers in Irish soccer.

Yet Perth, as assistant manager to Kenny, had been an intrinsic part of that success and his appointment as manager came as little surprise to those in the Dundalk camp.

“We lost one of the all-time great managers in the League of Ireland and it was my job to replace him” Perth told The Echo.

“There were a lot of people who were supporting me, the players, the board along with family and friends who wanted it for me, perhaps even more than I did because I was looking at this as my fifth title with the club whereas they saw it as my first, being manager.

“So when we won the title on Monday there was that sense of relief and joy, for them more so” he said.

Looking back on his rise to the top of the game, he continued “I had to do it the hard way after I stopped playing.

“I learned my trade on the [Killinarden] Hill with Sacred Heart and I never forget that. I’ve gone from Senior 1B in the Leinster Senior League to the top of the game in Ireland and that’s something I’m very proud of. A lot of people helped and supported me along the way.

“I feel I can wear my Dundalk jacket around Tallaght with even more pride now” he laughed.

“I bumped into a couple of Shamrock Rovers supporters when I was in Citywest Shopping Centre and there was good banter.

“Obviously they want their own team to do well, but there’s a respect there for what we have achieved at Dundalk and that’s great to see” he said.

The success of the team this season was made all the more sweet for Perth given that the defending champions had fallen 13 points behind then leaders Shamrock Rovers early on in the season only to silence all doubters with a stunning run that saw them bag the title with four games to spare.

“There’s always pressure at Dundalk” insisted Perth. “When you lose two games in a row there’s a major investigation and it’s not the same at any other club.

“I think that when we were 13 points behind early in the season, everyone outside of Dundalk was talking about it. We had two games in hand so we didn’t feel that way, but we had to work our way slowly but surely back into it and the players were brilliant.

“There’s a strong core of players there, players who have been there from the start of the new era at Dundalk. We have great leaders and personalities in that team, players like Brian Gartland and Dane Massey who made life easier for me” he stressed.

Having worked with Kenny and the players at Dundalk for a number of years, Perth’s appointment was viewed as a seamless transition by those at the club.

“In the modern game, you can be ridiculed for using certain words, but continuity was what we wanted [after Kenny’s departure]” said Perth. “It was the buzz word around our club.

“Stephen was an amazing manager and there was no point in ripping up the blueprint that he had left, especially when I had worked on that blueprint with him.

“Certainly I put my own stamp on things, the way we trained, but we didn’t want to change too much and be too clever.”

It was to prove a wise move by the Killinarden man who is now re-focusing his players on their FAI Cup campaign which sees them take on Sligo Rovers in the semi finals this Sunday, having already bagged the League and EA Sports Cup.

“The players know there’s an opportunity there for a domestic treble and they’re not shying away from that” insisted Perth.

“We want to win a treble. It’s a chance for them to be one of the greatest teams in the league.”

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