Dundalk eye up Bray’s Dylan Connolly to replace Daryl Horgan

Winger follows team-mate Andy Boyle to English Championship side Preston North End

Daryl Horgan is a “forward-thinking player with a lot of goals. He makes things happen,” said Preston North End coach Simon Grayson. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dundalk seem likely to resume their interest in Bray Wanderers winger Dylan Connolly after Daryl Horgan followed in the footsteps of Andy Boyle yesterday by completing his move to English Championship side Preston North End.

Stephen Kenny has already moved to replace Boyle by signing highly rated young St Patrick's Athletic centre-back Seán Hoare, and his interest in Connolly, a lightning-quick left-sided midfielder who returned to Ireland last year from Ipswich, has been well publicised.

The Wicklow club has, however, dug in with regard to the 21-year-old, who is under contract for another year; having had a couple of bids – the higher of which is believed to have been in the region of €20,000 – rejected, Dundalk must now decide whether to use a more significant portion of its European cash to make Bray an offer they will not want to refuse in order to fill a Horgan-sized gap in the team for next year.

Good fit

For the departing winger, Preston looks like a good fit, with Simon Grayson’s side 12th in the Championship but just four points off fourth place, and so still firmly in contention for a place in the promotion play-offs. The 24-year-old could find himself in competition for a place in the team with Aiden McGeady, the Ireland international currently on loan from Everton, but there is a general belief that both he and Boyle can make much more of an impact at Deepdale than


Richie Towell

has in the wake of his much-celebrated move to Brighton a year ago.

Injuries have played their part in hindering the midfielder, and things may yet turn around for him, but Grayson has certainly given the impression of a manager who sees his two new Irish recruits as having an immediate contribution to make once their 2½-year deals kick in with the start of the transfer window on January 1st.

“We have had to work hard to get them,” he said. “Both players have had great seasons in their league and in Europe, leading to their call-ups for the Irish squad. They are young, hungry and looking to improve and will be excellent acquisitions for us.


“I spoke to

Steve Guppy

[a member of Martin O’Neill’s coaching staff] about both of them, who was very positive and we have watched them a number of times and they have been excellent at club level and handled the

Europa League

games very well.

“Daryl is a forward-thinking player with a lot of goals. He makes things happen, has got a bit of pace about him, has a good delivery in him and he has scored a lot of goals this season.

“Andy is a good centre-half, who can also handle the ball, and both have shown their determination to join us by coming over a couple of times to meet us and got things done very quickly. They both have the desire to keep improving and joining a Championship club is the next progression for them – we have always tried to improve and we look forward to working with them.”


Regular Championship football could give both players a chance to play their way into Martin O’Neill’s plans on a regular basis, although clearly the first target is to get established in the club’s first team. While many feel he has the ability to make a major impact at that level, Horgan was typically unassuming about his prospects: “I work hard,” he said, “I try my best – hopefully it will go well.”

Boyle, meanwhile, said that his move had “capped off” a year in which he had won another league title, played a string of high-profile European games and earned a first call-up into the international squad. The 25-year-old finalised his move before the weekend.

Most of the other key members of the Dundalk squad are under contract for next year, although it is possible that the likes of Sean Gannon, Pat McEleney or Ronan Finn might still be tempted into moves after good European campaigns.

Kenny has a contract too, and seems set to stay, although Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill suggested last week that the Dubliner might have to move now if he wanted to capitalise on the tremendous success he has achieved over the last three seasons at Oriel Park.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times