Defensive improvements could shore up Richardson’s role
Drogheda United manager hopes cup success might help him extend stay
Drogheda manager Damien Richardson. Photograph: Donall Farmer / Inpho
Having helped the club to secure its place in the top flight of the league for next season, Drogheda United manager Damien Richardson is hoping some Ford FAI Cup success might yet help him to secure an extended stay at the club.
Derry City stand between United and a place in the competition’s semi-finals and Richardson reckons “anything could happen” if they can get that far. If anything did it would complete a remarkable return to management for the 67-year-old who spent the last few years of a long spell out of management wondering if he would ever get this sort of chance again.
“We live in a time when people say there shouldn’t be any problem with age: ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough,’ or ‘young enough,’ or whatever way you look at it,” he says, “but it’s only natural that there is, that people look at me and say, ‘Ah, he’s 60-odd or whatever and he hasn’t done it for seven years’. Over the last two or three years nobody had even approached me, so that’s obviously in people’s minds: that either I’m past it or I’ve lost interest but this might revive interest. It’s certainly revived my interest, which is the main thing.”
In a league where the average age of managers is in the mid-forties it didn’t seem likely he’d get another chance to do it for real but when Drogheda needed someone to take over from caretaker boss Darius Kierans due to the rules on coaching badge requirements they called him. He jumped at the chance.
His impact has been impressive. The team had already improved significantly in the four games played under Kierans but three wins and two draws in six league games under Richardson have left United with an outside shot of a top six finish.
Derry were one of the teams beaten and Peter Hutton admits the improvement in the home side’s defensive organisation that night was one of the most striking features of the game.
His point about the emphasis he placed on continuing the improvements made to a defence that had been leaking goals during Robbie Horgan’s last few weeks in charge is generally supported by the scorelines since.
Richardson is quick to acknowledge the role of Kierans and his fellow coach Neale Fenn in all this. Neither, though, will be in a position to be manager next year either and that, he suggests, may leave him with a role to play.
“There’s an appeal to the idea that I could act as a guide to those lads [Kierans and Fenn] and to the players and it’s a natural bridge for the club because there aren’t too many lads who you would look at and think ‘He’s a natural choice’ [for the manager’s job],” he says.
Win on Friday, as he says himself, and anything might happen.
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