By Christopher Windrum
Christopher Windrum reports on what occured in the chaotic aftermath of Saint Patrick’s Athletic winning the FAI Cup final.
On the 28th of November Saint Patrick’s Athletic (St Pats) beat Bohemians 4-3 on penalties to win the FAI cup final. 24 hours later rumours started circulating that St Pats manager Stephen O’Donnell was heading to Dundalk to be their next manager.
After Dundalk sacked Vinny Perth last week, O’Donnell was seen as their first choice in taking over the managerial role at Dundalk.
Stephen O’Donnell released a statement on his departure from St Pats.
He said:“Today, I informed St Patrick’s Athletic of my decision to resign as Head Coach. I understand the club and supporters will be disappointed at my decision. However, I hope that, despite their disappointment, they can recognise that I have given everything during my time in charge.”
“I would like to thank all the coaching staff, the players and the club’s supporters, all of whom have been incredible during my time at the club. I would also like to thank Garrett Kelleher for giving me my first opportunity in coaching and I hope he feels I have delivered upon the faith he has shown in me.”
All of this has caused chaos after such a big cup win for St Pats, which was blind-sided by the news of O’Donnell’s departure.
According to the Twitter rumour mill, O’Donnell was offered a new contract in September and it is unknown at this time if he had signed the new contract with St Pats. This might explain why he hasn’t signed with Dundalk yet.
There haven’t been many new contracts signed by St Pats players throughout the current season. Many think this is because O’Donnell knew he would be moving on to Dundalk at the end of the season, and take some of the out of contract players with him.
O’Donnell became St Pats manager in 2019 replacing Harry Kenny halfway through the season. For the first year and a half, O’Donnell’s side underperformed, finishing mid-table in both seasons, but last season he finished second in the league and was victorious in the FAI cup.
When St Pats found out about O’Donnell leaving, they quickly moved on to find his replacement. This was Tim Clancy, who has signed a two-year deal with St Pats.
Tim Clancy who managed Drogheda United since 2017 got the Louth side promoted in 2020 by winning the League of Ireland First Division.
Clancy spoke about joining St Pats via their website. “I am delighted to join the management team at a massive club like St Pats and looking forward to helping the Club to achieve its great ambitions. It was a difficult decision to leave Drogheda United and I am eternally grateful to them for giving me my first opportunity in management.”
St Pats did finish the week on a high with star midfielder Chris Forrester signing a new deal with the club which will see him at St Pats for the next few seasons.
When the season starts up again in March, the meeting of St Pats and Dundalk will be one of the standout fixtures.