Welcome back to Dundalk for a retrospective of the 2024 season plus a look forward to 2025, including the pre-season, player movements, that kind of thing.
First up are all the end-of season awards.
Best XI – Jenks, Brian Connolly & Nathan Ngoy make it to the Bench. Dara O’Shea (Mansfield) and Sean Gannon (Waterford) are the two players still in the XI that aren’t at the club (Though Benson, McEleney & Dan Kelly are being released at the end of the month).
Jenks is Fans Player of the Season & Young Player of the Season. Steven O’Malley was the Signing of the Season and Neco Williams scored the goal of the season, a pretty standard 20-yarder across the Keeper.
Club Vision and Expectation – Win the League and get to the UCL 3rd Qual Round… Fine
End of Season break until 13th January.
Colin McGarvey’s 38 goals is a team record, smashing Jordan Kelly’s 26 from last season.
Steven O’Malley’s 25 assists beats Jenks’s 19 from last season also.
I’m making a conscious decision to go for youth – Central Defenders, Central Midfielders and Wingers currently; become the Chelsea of Co. Louth.
I’ve turned down a couple of interviews – Bristol City in the Championship & Leeds (Bottom of the Premiership).
And we have the Europa League 1st Knockout Round Draw. Some of the draws are winnable (Dinamo Zagreb, Young Boys, Viktoria Plzen), some are tough (Arsenal, Sevilla, Roma). Wish me luck :)…
Bonus!!! Dinamo Zagreb, away leg first up. Plus Sevilla play Roma and Arsenal play Bournemouth. Just 4 rounds to the final 🙂 🙂 🙂 £430k for appearing in this round, almost £1M for the 2nd Knockout Round, £1.3M for the Quarters, £2M for the Semi & £7.3M for winning it/£3.8M for losing in the final. 20th February for the 1st Leg.
Right, first set of purchases have come in. Plus Ger Ryan has joined Limerick for a season long loan.
Matty Burrows – £500k from Derry City, plus loaning him back to them for a season. 2.5* CA, 3.5-4.5* PA Pressing Forward, 15 Finishing, 16 Acc, 4 year deal. Already played 3 times for the Northern Ireland senior team at 18yo. Feels like a solid purchase.
Gerry O’Halloran – Another 18yo, but Gerry is a natural either as a Carillero or DM. 2* CA , 3.5-4.5* PA, very solid with an 18 for Work Rate. Another very nice buy, 3 year deal for £375k. Loaned back to Cork for the season.
Nathan Ngoy(!) – Been able to get Nathan for £1.5M at £6.5k/wk from Standard, really happy with that 🙂 Looking for him and Ray Moore to cement a relationship as the Centre Back duo for the first team, with Stevie Moore as first change. He joins on 3rd January.
Levante are sniffing around Colin McGarvey. £20M and he’s yours, but not a penny less.
A couple more kids aill be joining on 3rd January.
Sam McCabe – 18yo Right Wing Back comes in for 3 years for £400k from Crusaders. Already looks like quality, the scouts have him at 2.5-3* CA, 3-4.5* PA and our 2nd best right back after Freddy Barton (Who I hope will also be joining as I have an option to pay c. £90k for him at the end of the loan deal. £400k.
Neil Hanna – Neil will join on 3rd January from Glenavon for £65k. An Advanced Playmaker in Centre Mid Neil has been scouted at 2.5-3* CA, 3-5* PA with Flair in abundance and some crazy mentals for an 18yo (6 U21 caps for N. Ireland) £65k is a steal.
So that’s £2.84M spent on some quality young’uns.
I’m being linked with the Newcastle job… 16th in the Premier League. Not a chance. At least they have a different Chairman now in game.
And I’ve started my Continental Pro Licence. 12 Months. Also just checked and my reputation is at 65% now!
17yo Jim Collins is off to Limerick for a season long loan. Loving these Limerick ones as they are up in the IPD now, so our Affiliate agreement will end soon – That’s 2 affiliates promoted in 2 years 🙂
Norwich offer an interview – 14th in the Premier Division. Nope.
First transfer offers for Colin McGarvey – From the MLS! Just over £1M from Colorado & Philly. No Chance.
We’ve got a tax bill of £1.5M – Lets get to the 2nd Knockout Round of the Europa League to cover that off 🙂
This is where we struggle – We’ve only sold 1,027 shirts, and only take £27k in sponsorship…
Sean Brennan – 17yo Sean joins from Cork on a 3 year deal. 1.5*CA, 3.5-4.5* PA, Sean is a natural BBM, 16 Work Rate, 14 Stamina, 15 Technique. Could be amazing. £350k/Week
Steven O’Malley claims the Irish Player of the Year, with Jordan Kelly 3rd. 19 goals and 25 assists (7.73) is absolutely filthy 🙂 Steven also gets the Irish Young Player of the Year, with Jordan 2nd and Troy Parrott 3rd.
Russell Watts gets the Irish U21 Player of the Year. Sam McCabe 2nd (Just bough him), Barry O’Leary 3rd (Next on the shopping list).
Jordan does get an award – the Irish League of Ireland Player of the Year with Ray Moore 2nd. Almost a goal per game for Jordan 🙂
10 players have now been released as we get to 31st December.
Hoping the young’uns do well, and that the older ones either get new contracts or staff roles.
18yo Josh Donnelly has gone to Limerick on Loan for the season.
Colin McGarvey is now the Team Captain 🙂 Jordan Kelly is Vice-Captain. Attack-minded to the core of the club.
The squad dynamics are still Good/Excellent/Excellent
Opening day in the IPD will be versus Waterford at Oriel Park, and we’ve received just under £60k for TV Rights for the season.
And I’ve just got a news story that Colin McGarvey’s 7.82 Average last season was a club record, beating Jenks’s 7.79 from 2023.
We’ve had 4 players join on the 3rd January – Sam, Neil and Nathan we’ve discussed, Tim Foulkes we haven’t.
Tim is a young Michael Duffy – Inverted Winger on the left, who will be trained on the right wing also. 3.5*-4.5* PA, he’s already quick at 18yo. Welcome Tim.
Freddy Barton will be a Dundalk-owned player in the summer. I will try and get him on loan until then. We’ve also go a new head Physio with 20 Physiotherapy – Alastair Thrush(!), Charlton Head Physio IRL (Had to because of the name)
Actually, Charlton only wanted £85k to buy him now, so I’ve done that 🙂 Freddy is now a Dundalk player 🙂
I’ve made all the contract offers I’m going to for the contracts ending at the end of 2025 – Only Barry Reilly (STC) is an issue currently as he won’t get rid of the promise to be an Important Player in 2026 (I doubt he will be) so he’s up for sale. Fullback Chris McCabe (21) is the first to sign, a 2 year deal. Steven O’Malley (22) signs for 3 years as well. Lastly Jordan Kelly (22) pens a new 2 year deal.
Brian Stapleton (20) signs for another 2 years – will be looking to get him out on loan, and Alex Rubarth (22) signs for 3 years. Will be looking for him to be the backup to Colin McGarvey this year. Stevie Moore (22 – see a pattern here?) signs a 2 year extension. he does have a £700k release fee but if someone were to offer then that wouldn’t be bad business.
Tommy Carlin (18 STC) signs for 2 years, Tommy Collins (21) for 3, Mazeed Ogungbo (22, DC) for 2 and Jim Collins (18, STC) for 3.
We’ve had the first draw of the season – the Leinster Senior Cup 4th Round.
Bohs at home. A more balanced draw means St. Pat’s and Shamrock are kept apart for a change 🙂
2,700 season tickets expected for a 4,500 seater stadium. That will be up about 400 on last season.
We back training now – we have a number of tune-up friendlies before the opener versus Waterford but it’s looking like a strong squad.
Calum Watson (20, DL) goes out to Scunthorpe for the season (League 2).
18th January 2025 – Friendly – Newcastle (NIR) (H)
FT Dundalk 13 (McCormick o.g. 10, Collins 12, 22, 26, 37 Duffy 19, pen 28, 44, O’Malley 32, McShane 46, 83, Rubarth 47, 66) Newcastle (NIR) 0 Att 1,173 (5 Away)
A bit of a feeler, our 1st goal of the 2025 season was an O.G. from an O’Malley corner. Tommy Collins scored a nice header next from a McGarvey cross. McGarvey the provider again for the 3rd, a nice Duffy volleyed finish. Collins heads his 2nd from a Jenks free kick to make it 4. And he makes its a hat-trick of headers in the 26th minute from an O’Malley cross. Pen in the 28th, Duffy finishing nicely. Steven O’Malley gets in on the action with a near post finish from a Jenks pass in the 32nd minute to make it 7. Collins heads his 4th in the 37th minute from a Jenks cross. Duffy gets his hat-trick with a scorching volley from an O’Malley cross just before the break. Just 9-0 at half-time. Colm McShane makes it 10 in the 1st minute of the 2nd half – a tap in after a parried Jordan Kelly shot. Alex Rubarth bundles the ball in for 11 after a corner and a Stevie Moore nod-down. No goals for almost 20 minutes before Alex Rubarth gets his second with a floaty header from a McShane cross. Colm McShane scores a nice volley for his 2nd from a Rubarth cross to make it 13-0. And that’s how it ended 🙂
Geoffrey Mpande – Danish (Think there have been some decent Danish Keepers in the past) 18yo GK Geoffrey comes in for 3 years as a backup keeper in competition with Evan O’Donovan (Who could potentially go out on loan now). 2* CA, 3-4* PA, worth a punt on a free after his AaB contract expired.
Stephen Andrews (20yo MC) has gone to Sligo for the season on loan.
24th January 2025 – Friendly – U.C.D. (A)
FT U.C.D. 1 (Hyland pen 7) Dundalk 4 (Kelly 23, 25, Holloway 33, McGarvey 79) Att 431 (134 Away)
U.C.D. finished 4th in the First Division last season, losing in the playoffs to Shelbourne (Who went on to beat Bohemians and Sligo to gain promotion). U.C.D. score the first with a soft penalty, Hyland converting. We get back on level terms in the 23rd minute, Jordan Kelly finishing a 1-on-1 after a fine long pass by McGrath. And it’s 2 a couple of minute later, Jordan again, heading in a Watts corner. Joe Holloway popped up to head in another Watts corner not long after to make it 3-1. After half-time plenty of changes were made, and McGarvey gets on the scoresheet in the 79th minute, finishing off after a lovely ball over by Neco Williams. It finished 4-1 Dundalk.
28th January 2025 – Friendly – Sligo Rovers (A)
FT Sligo Rovers 0 Dundalk 4 (Collins 2, McShane 27, Holloway 39, Kelly 79) Att 538 (102 Away)
Newly-relegated Sligo entertain us today. Sligo have ex-Real Madrid and Liverpool Geraldo Bruna in their side (Now 33). We open the scoring in the 2nd minute – Tommy Collins with a smart finish after a succession of pinged passes. jenks has a goal disallowed for tripping in the build-up. McShane gets the 2nd in the 27th minute after a lovely team build-up, assist from Jenks. He shows is if he can’t plat MR but is a natural at AMR – one of those ones – so he’s training at MR full time now. Another disallowed goal, Tommy Collins this time, offside. Joe Holloway gets number 3 with a ping from 25 yards. A quiet second half, with Colin McGarvey crossing for Jordan to get number 4 with a powerful finish. It finishes 4-0.
Striker Barry Reilly has gone out to St. Johnstone (Premiership in Scotland) for a season – If he progresses and gets in the goals I will be thinking about him as real competition to Jordan Kelly.
Our U19’s beat Cherry Orchard 9-0 in a friendly, goals from new winger Tim Foulkes, triallist Eliot Llullaku, a brace for Brian Stapleton and 5(!) for Tommy Carlin.
2nd February 2025 – Friendly – Muirhevna Mor (H)
FT Dundalk 14 (Collins 11, 45+3, Duffy 14, 18, 45+4, Rubarth 22, 24, McShane 39, Jenkinson 45, 65, 77, Kelly 51, O’Malley 70) Muirhevna Mor 0 Att 1,274 (97 Away)
Expectation of double figures today. Tommy Collins with the opener in the 11th minute after great work by Duffy. Duffy gets the second soon after , a fine cross from McShane headed down by Collins, Duffy with the tap in. And Duffy makes it 3-0 in the 18th minute with a break-away goal. Alex Rubarth makes it 4 with a smart finish after a Joe Holloway pass. And he also scores number 5, a header from a Jenks free kick. 24 minutes gone. Duffy seals his hat-trick in the 27th minute with a fine header from a McShane cross. A blank 15 minutes, then McShane volleys home a Duffy cross for number 7. Just before half time Jenks scores No. 8 – a fine direct free kick. Tommy Collins makes it 9-0 3 minutes into injury time with a header from a McShane cross. And Duffy gets his hat-trick with a minute of the restart to make it 10-0 at the break – battling to get the ball back in a stramash in the 6-yard box. Jordan Kelly scores in the 51st minute to make it 11 – a header from an O’Malley corner. jenks gets a tap in for no. 12 from an O’Malley cut-back. And O’Malley gets 13 with a well-struck shot in the bottom right corner of the goal, from a McGarvey flicked header. Jenks bundles the ball over the line for 14-0 after Connolly’s header crashes against the bar; his hat-trick. 13 minutes left. Kelly has the ball in the net in the 86th minute, but was adjudged to be offside. It finishes 14-0.
Barry O’Leary – 21yo Barry comes in for £375k and is loaned straight back to Waterford to continue his development with lots of first team football there. 5ft 11, 16 Heading, 17 Determination, Bravery and Strength – a bit of a beast for his age as a Target Man or Pressing Forward – you won’t be pushing him off the ball 🙂 Scored 17 in 35 last year for Waterford as well!!
7th February 2025 – Friendly – Limerick F.C. (A)
FT Limerick F.C. 0 Dundalk 2 (McGarvey 25, Holloway 45) Att 785 (78 Away)
IPD new-boys Limerick entertain us this evening, with 4 of our lads there on loan. It takes 25 minutes to break the deadlock – Colin McGarvey with a tap-in after a wonderful through-ball from Jenks. Just before the break Holloway makes it 2 with a good header from an O’Malley deep free kick. The second half was quiet and patch – it finished 2-0.
Our U19’s beat Shamrock U19’s 7-1, goals from right winger Dan Cross, and braces from trialist Eliot Llullaku, right winger Martin Kenny & AMC Brian Stapleton.
Barry Reilly is playing well for St. Johnstone – a brace in a 3-1 win over Falkirk.
I’ve also offered a few more contracts to the 2025 lads – Aidan Hamilton first up signing for 3 years.
So that’s that for the pre-season. 3 games in 6 days to start the season – Waterford at home and St. Pat’s away in the league followed by Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia in the 1st leg of the Europa League 1st Knockout Round 🙂
We shall hopefully be into the 2nd Knockout Round of the Europa League by the end of next post 🙂 The President’s Cup should be versus St. Pat’s I think.
With regards to squad strength we have at least 2 3*+ CA players in all positions (4-4-2) except left wing and Goal – With a ton of youth prospects all over the place on loan
Plenty of attacking talent, loads of potential. See you next time for the start of the 2025 season 🙂