Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli says that the club still hopes to add another two or three players before the start of the season as last year's cup winners look to regain the league title from Shamrock Rovers.
Speaking at an announcement that Bank of Ireland are to become a sponsor of the country’s senior league and cup competitions, the Italian suggested that signings over the coming weeks are all likely to be from abroad. Adding to an Oriel Park overseas contingent that already includes players from Latvia, the Faroe Island, Scotland, Norway and Albania.
“The club has a vision to become a more international club and they asked us to recruit more from outside,” explained Giovagnoli. “We are looking to respect that vision of the owners.
“We are looking for people who want to come here and play, people who are really motivated. They (the ones who have already come) are mature young players, I would say.
“I think Eastern and Northern Europe are good places to look. There are strong, young players who have experience of playing in their national teams and they look at the League of Ireland as an opportunity to come here, to be competitive, win trophies, develop then go on to the next level.
“That fits in with the club’s vision. It wants to give the opportunity to young players to challenge themselves here in this league.”
Dundalk continue to work towards the signing of South Korea’s Han Eui-Kwon, a winger, and the manager suggested that at least one other target was a wide attacking player.
The club lost a number of stalwarts from its hugely successful side of the last few seasons during the past few months with the likes of Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, John Mountney, Gary Rogers and Dane Massey all departing. However, the manager remains in confident mood: "The players who left, it was their decision to leave the club so there was nothing that we could do about that and we have replaced quality with quality.
“We want to win and we want to develop players. We want to challenge Shamrock Rovers so we are going to try to win games, battle for the league. We are looking to complete the squad and we are going to do it soon.”
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley, meanwhile, admits that he was disappointed to lose Aaron McEneff to Hearts this week but insists the move was expected after months of sustained interest in the midfielder and that he would be happy to go into the new campaign with the squad that the club currently has if no new signings are made.
“I think we’ve lost five out in terms of Greg (Bolger), Danny (Lafferty), Rhys (Marshall), Aaron and Jack (Byrne) and a few of the younger ones who were fringe players,” he said, “but I’m really happy with the group. If we could get one more, the right one, we’d look to do that but we’re not in any rush. We’re pretty happy with the group.”
The pair were speaking at an event to promote Bank of Ireland’s new sponsorship, effectively a product of the refinancing talks between the company and the association.
The sponsorship will support for the league’s “More than a Club,” programme, an initiative that was trialed a couple of years back at Cork City and Bohemians and which focuses on community development and education work.
“It’s designed to help clubs develop their ‘football in the community” programmes,” said the FAI’s Derek O’Neill, who will oversee the scheme. The intention is for clubs to get more involved in the areas of health, education and social inclusion so that they can become more relevant in their local communities.
“The aim is for clubs to end up with full-time community development officers but it won’t happen over night.”
Cork City community and academy coordinator, Erika Ní Thuama, said the club was “really, really proud” of what the club had achieved during the pilot project and that O’Neill’s involvement at national level would make a big difference for clubs looking to develop their work in the area.