Welcome back to Dundalk for an important post and pre season. We will be getting ready for a 2026 that will start with the 1st Knockout Round of the UCL, £8M and a £9M carrot if we can get to the Quarters.
I will take things chronologically over this period. There will be a lot of Wheeling and Dealing 🙂
Firstly our u19’s draw 0-0 with Lazio U20’s, also qualifying top of their group. We are both in to the draw for the later stages.
Acheivement Unlocked – Invincible 🙂
Jordan Flores holding on in midfield in the Dundalk best 11. Ray Moore is currently at Hull, Dara O’Shea Mansfield, Sean Gannon Waterford, Jamie McGrath at TNS, Jordan Flores in teh First Division at Bohemians and Chris Shields is a manager in Wales – Flint Town Utd.
I didn’t pick this one – Neco Williams Fans Player of the Season!!! Neil Hanna Young Player of the Season – will be interesting seeing him battling it out with David Dallas when he arrives for that playmaker spot.
An interesting stat – The average attendance is now 3,840 – 85% capacity. We may need to think about a stadium expansion soon.
First time I’ve seen the Club Culture Items. We do all of these already so this might be the tail wagging the dog 🙂
And the lads are now on their break – only a month before they come back for training in mid-January.
The Youth and Training facilities upgrade has begun – £3.7M, should be ready in May 2026.
Limerick sign Dan Cross (21yo Winger) – One of our released kids. Hoping this increase in our Youth setup will end up benefiting Ireland as a whole.
Tommy Collins breaks the Dundalk goalscoring record with 39 goals – Big Col score 38 in 2024.
Steven O’Malley breaks his own record for assists with 31; he assisted 25 times in 2024.
Joe Holloway signs until the end of 2027 – A really good BBM and still only 21.
Stephen Andrews (21yo MC) goes to Shamrock Rovers on 1st January.
And we have the UCL Last 16 draw – we are seeded as group winners 🙂 Don’t think we can get Lazio – Liverpool and Arsenal are the biggies.
Arsenal 🙂 It’s definitely doable (Arsenal currently 3rd in the Premier League).
Hopefully we can take them to Fortress Tallaght in a good position.
Liam signs from Bayern Munich Until the end of 2028. 4* CA. Currently our 2 best players are Central defenders, with Zech Medley coming in as well, and Nathan Ngoy – 4 very good centre backs.
Jenks signs on loan for a 4th season 🙂 Just £4.7k/wk – what the hell are Leicester up to!!! That’s worth an A+ from the Fans 🙂
Contracts offered to all the 31/12/2026 contract renewals.
Dom Kiene goes to IFK Helsingfors in the Finnish Veikkausliiga (Premier League) until the end of the 2026 season, 29th August. Hoping he gets a full season of football like Vetle Dahl has been getting at Kristiansund.
Aidan Hamilton goes to Cork for the 2026 season.
And we have the first set of contract signings – Evan O’Donovan (20yo GK, 3 years), Brian Connolly (3 Years), Jordan Kelly (3 Years), Neco Williams (2 years).
Ryan Corrigan also signs (2 years) & Tommy Carlin (3 years)
And I now have all my licences 🙂 70% reputation now.
Just got a £1.8M tax bill 🙁 Shouldn’t be so successful.
Everything on the up apart from Sponsorship – would have thought I’d be getting more sponsors through the door TBH.
Young Striker Dom Halford (18) goes to Cork on loan for the season – he joins Aidan Hamilton.
Steven O’Malley has come second in the Irish Player of the Year, Michael Obafemi of Watford taking the award.
Jim Collins (Limerick) gets 3rd in the U21 Irish player of the year – Brian Sammon gets the award.
Steven O’Malley did however get the Irish Young Player of the Year – Jordan Kelly 3rd. Steven is 23, as is Jordan…
Jordan Kelly wins the League of Ireland Player of the year, Ger Ryan (Limerick) was 3rd.
NEW SIGNING (2nd Jan 2026)
19yo Welshman Kieron Hillman (Natural ML, winger, 6ft 5in!!!) joins from Cardiff for £450k. A 75 Scout recommendation, Kieron has 5* PA and 2.5* CA. Hoping he will take over from Michael Duffy in the next couple of years.
And so we reach 2026. Dan Kelly, Mark Hanratty & Darragh Cunningham have left the club, along with youngsters Kyle Sheridan and Sean Brennan. All the other leavers have found clubs (Sean Sheehan to Waterford, Dan Cross to Limerick, Stephen Andrews to Shamrock, Karl Harmon to Derry, Kevin Noakes to Cork).
Jamie McGrath is doing well at TNS – Player of the Month for december in the Welsh Premier. He is also one of the Media Dream 11 for that league.
We received the League fixtures for 2026 – We visit Premier League new-boys Athlone first up, Friday 13th(!) of February. We also receive £70k for TV rights for the new season. And we have rearrangements straight away as we play Arsenal in March in the UCL 1st Knockout round.
The board would like us to win everything, and get to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the UCL 🙂 New Wage Budget £258k/wk. We are using £95k of that… £14M transfer budget.
2nd January – 4 players arrive.
Last season showed an average attendance record, 4,699. Oriel Park holds 4,500…. Those European nights at 8,000 capacity Tallaght bumping that up.
Steven O’Malley sets a team average rating record – 7.82 from 41 appearances, beating Big Col’s 7.82 (39 appearances) in 2024.
Mazeed Ogungbo (23yo DC) goes to Ipswich for £450k. He wouldn’t be getting anywhere near aenough game time, and at 23 he deserves better, so goes to Ipswich in League 1. Now a 49 scout rating, so a good sale i think.
We;ve had the draw for the big one – the Leinster Senior Cup 4th Round!!!
Newly relegated Longford.
We welcome 21yo American Keeper Jonny Devlin from New York City FC for £1.6M. Looking forward to seeing him progress, as we have some good Goalkeeping coaches now!
And we reach the start of our season and first friendly =- Civil Service (N.I.)
Friendly – 14th January 2026 – Civil Service (N.I.) (H)
FT Dundalk 6 (Connolly 9, Collins 11, Jenkinson pen 18, Burrows 21, Dallas 39, McGarvey 73) Civil Service 0 Att 1,276 (7 Away)
Cohesion is still good as we’ve not had too many squad movements over the close season. 5-0 at the break, good to see new signings David Dallas and Matty Burrows. Zech Medley slotted straight back in as well.
Friendly – 17th January 2026 – U.C.D. (H)
FT Dundalk 3 (Kelly 2, Moore pen 18, pen 35) U.C.D. 0 Att 1,262 (2 Away)
Our second friendly versus an old friend from the First Division, U.C.D. David Evans (MR, Cobh on loan from Shamrock, was Irish First Division Player and Young Player of the Year for us in 2021). Ex-Cobh youngster Axel Bernet is also there. A bit disjointed, and U.C.D ended up with 9 men… 15 shots on target though.
A bit of a punt. Sammy Baird (19yo Northern Irish MC) arrives on a free in the summer from Ballinamallard. A 67 scout rating, 2* CA, possible 4.5* PA he could potentially be a decent winger in time. £500/wk plus a loan move straight away, not too much lost if he doesn’t progress. Actually, He’s cost £500 to get him now, let’s do that and get him out on loan and playing.
PLAYER LEAVING (LOAN)
Ryan Corrigan goes out to Championship Luton until the end of their season. Hoping he gets some decent game time as he’s 3 choice here currently.
Affiliates – Cobh Ramblers was on the list – will defo give them first refusal. And they’ve accepted 🙂
New signing Sammy Baird has gone out to Dungannon (Currently 4th in the Danske Bank Premiership) until the summer.
Friendly – 21st January 2026 – Bala (H)
FT Dundalk 5 (Burrows 51, 59, Collins 67, 86, 87) Bala 0 Att 1,267 (1 Away)
Bala (3rd in the Welsh Premier) come over the Irish Sea for a friendly this evening. Might be an interesting game as I’ve put the kids out (For the 1st half at least). 0-0 at the break, the big boys came on at half time and it finished 5-0, 5 great goals as well. Matty Burrows is really good. Torn, I think Jordan Kelly might have to go out on loan…
Friendly – 24th January 2026 – Morecambe (H)
FT Dundalk 0 Morecambe 0 Att 1,335 (79 Away)
Morecambe also make the short crossing across the Irish Sea to play us this afternoon – They are in the Vanarama National, which is no longer a playable league in my save. Totally on top, but just couldn’t get the goal versus a 4-2-2-2 2DM.
Friendly – 27th January 2026 – Southport (H)
FT Dundalk 6 (Burrows 18, O’Malley 25, Duffy 34, pen 56, 88, Kelly 48) Southport 1 (Palmer 45+2) Att 1,286 (16 Away)
Another Vanarama team this evening for hopefully a better performance. And it was , Duffy with a hat-trick.
Our U19’s beat Galway 6-0, goals from Tommy Carlin, Jim Collins, David Behrenbeck and a hat-trick from Tim Foulkes.
Friendly – 31st January 2026 – Montreal Impact (H)
FT Dundalk 4 (O’Malley 16, Burrows 71, Duffy 78, Collins 82) Montreal Impact 1 (Olivier 89) Att 1,467 (12 Away)
A strange one this, MLS East Canadian side Montreal asked for the friendly. Their season in Mid February as well. We ground them down and ended up comfortable winners.
Dan Haworth signs – originally in July but it was only £16k to get him in now so I did that. 2.5* CA 5* PA, 80 Scout Rated Dan is an almost natural BPD. I will try and get him a season-long loan for his development. he comes in from Premier Division (!) Millwall (!!!)
Friendly – 4th February 2026 – Barrow (H)
FT Dundalk 6 (Collins 6, 16, 17, 18, McShane 7, McGarvey 27) Barrow 0 Att 1,285 (27 Away)
Vanarama North team Barrow come over from Cumbria for this evening’s friendly. All over inside the first half-hour, including an under 3-minute hat-trick (Goals 2 to 4) for Tommy Collins.
Bollocks. Was just about to offer him an extension as well – he wanted 3 years, taking him to 34. I’ve had to withdraw that now. Conor may have played his last game for the club 🙁 Depends on what decent affordable Keepers are out there.
Our U19’s beat Cabo 9-0, goals from Josh Donnelly, Ger Ryan, David Behrenbeck, Tommy Carlin, 2 for Martin Kenny and a hat-trick for Jim Collins.
Michael Duffy has signed a 1-year extension to his current deal, taking him to 33. Good to have his experience in what is a very young squad. Brian Stapleton has signed until 2028 – I’m going to see if he can play as a Pressing Forward.
Friendly – 8th February 2026 – Edenderry (H)
FT Dundalk 16 (Kelly 1, 5, 47, Burrows 7, 8, pen 11, 45+2, 55, O’Malley 19, 32, pen 42, Knight 43, Dallas 45+3, McShane 56, 78, Collins 67) Edenderry 0 Att 1,261 (4 Away)
Our last friendly sees non-league Edenderry come to Oriel Park. 4 minute hat-trick for Burrows, 5-0 in 11 minutes. 11-0 at the break. 3 players with hat-tricks. 50% conversion of shots on target.
Sam McCabe goes to Cork for the season – He moaned about not getting added to the UCL squad…
So we reach the end of pre-season. Next time we will have 5 games, including the trip to London.
Squad depth (3*) is pretty good – 6 forward, 6 central midfielders (Behrenbeck & Knight not shown) new boys Dallas and Burrows strengthening a n already good squad
Defence is also pretty strong. The only worry is goalkeeper with O’Malley out. Devlin & Mpande will be getting a lot more game time than I first thought. See you next time.