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Stephen Kenny Took Charge Of Dundalk Four Years Ago And Has Transformed Them Into A Rampaging Machine

Stephen Kenny Took Charge Of Dundalk Four Years Ago And Has Transformed Them Into A Rampaging Machine
By David Kent Updated

What a difference four years makes. Especially if you're Stephen Kenny.

On the 26th of October 2012, Dundalk FC hosted Bray Wanderers at Oriel Park. 260 people turned up to watch it.

Two weeks after that Bray game, Darius Kearns took his Dundalk side into a two legged relegation playoff against Waterford United. After a 2-2 draw in Oriel, Dundalk knew they had to go to the Regional Sports Centre and win. A brace from Michael Rafter ensured they did and retained their Premier Division status.

On the 21st of November 2012, Kenny was appointed Dundalk manager. It was a mere two months after he had been sacked by Shamrock Rovers. Two weeks after losing his job with the Hoops, they demolished Dundalk 7-0.

The Dundalk side in 2012 only won four games. A season later they won 21.

Kenny was shrewd in his management, bringing in the likes of Richie Towell, Brian Gartland, Pat Hoban and Andy Boyle into the side. A remarkable turnaround from finishing as second from bottom in 2012, Dundalk finished as runners up in 2013.

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He reached the holy grail in 2014 after a dramatic title decider against Cork City. They haven't looked back since, winning the league and cup in 2015, before doing the three in a row this year.

It's amazing when you compare the shape and look of the club.

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Less than 300 people turned up to the Bray game in 2012. If you want to see how big a difference has been made, check out their home crowd against Shamrock Rovers next weekend.

The 2012 Dundalk team only managed to find the net 23 times in 2012. That figure rose to 55 under Kenny in 2013. A year later it was 73 and then 78 in their blitz of 2015.

Only two of the players from the relegation playoff still play for the Lilywhites.  Chris Shields and John Mountney have been through the highs and lows of the club since that night in the RSC. There's one notable name from that Waterford United side in the playoff - an 18-year-old Seanie Maguire.

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Many pundits in 2012 were predicting that Dundalk may not survive the season financially. The club was on its knees. Had they been relegated to the First Division, Dundalk probably wouldn't be around today, in their current guise at least.

But they didn't. They survived. They appointed Stephen Kenny and are now one of the most successful sides that the league has produced, certainly in the last two decades.

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The 2017 season kicks off tonight when they travel to Turner's Cross to take on Cork City in the President's Cup. For most, it's just another pre-season game, but don't say that to Kenny or John Caulfield.

They're the pre-season favourites for the third year running. Many pundits are saying it'll come down to them and Cork City for the league again. This is despite losing two of their rock solid players in Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle. They've brought serious interest back to the league.

And that is down to Stephen Kenny.

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See Also: The Celtic Team Who Beat Man United In 2006 - Where Are They Now?

 


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