"You have to know there something out there greater than the matches you're playing in every week" - Stephen Kenny

Dundalk manager spoke to Joe Molloy and Johnny Ward

BY Raf Diallo 19:45 Wednesday 10 October 2018, 19:45 10 Oct 2018

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny celebrates winning the league ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Last season was underwhelming by the standards that Dundalk had set in winning three SSE Airtricity League Premier Division titles in a row between 2014 and 2016 and also becoming just the second Irish club to reach the Europa League group stages. 

But this 2018 season has seen the Lilywhites beat 2017 League of Ireland champions Cork City to the title with games to spare to make it four leagues in five years - and a 13th league title in their 115 year history.

They could achieve a double as well should they beat Cork in the FAI Cup final as the two dominant sides from the past few seasons meet in the Aviva Stadium decider for the fourth year in a row, with John Caulfield's Cork having won the last two finals.

Basking in the glow of securing another league title for the Co Louth club, we were joined by Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny.

"At the start of the season, we would have been delighted to be in this position," he said.

Dundalk's Gary Rogers, Stephen Kenny and Michael Duffy celebrate winning the league ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

"It's not one we could have predicted that with four games to go that we'd have the league title won. Even mid-season, it looked like ourselves and Cork were quite close and that it would go to the last game or so. We're thrilled to win it now."

Kenny also discussed the key moments during the league including beating direct rivals Cork three out of four times during the campaign.

"It didn't look like a two-horse race at the start of the season. It looked more open," said Kenny, pointing to early season expectations that Waterford FC and Shamrock Rovers could challenge the Top Two.

"But certainly, the head to heads with Cork were important. You can't get away from that, winning three of them.

"Obviously, we started a little bit slowly for a variety of reasons. But we were still sort of putting our squad together really at the start of the season and I think we were late formulating it. 

"But as the season went on, I felt we got better and winning 16 out of 17 on that run there, 13 straight wins put some distance between us and the rest."

Kenny pointed to younger players like Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy and Dylan Connolly who rose to the occasion throughout the season, as well as the return of Patrick McEleney, who had briefly left for Oldham Athletic in England. 

He also spoke about the importance of moving the family home down to Dundalk, with the family having moved to different jurisdictions during a managerial career that has taken from Dublin to Derry to Dunfermline in Scotland and now to Dundalk for the past five years. 

Kenny also looked ahead to next season's Champions League qualifiers where Dundalk will be seeded in the first round for the first time.

And he is intent to not just bask in the glory of another league title: "You don't want to bask in it. You have to know that there something out there that is greater than the matches you're playing in every week."

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