Stephen O’Donnell says that his aim is to turn St Patrick’s Athletic back into title contenders after having been confirmed as the club’s new manager over the weekend.
Technically, the 33-year-old, who has signed a two-year deal, has been named as “head coach” due to the fact that he does not possess the pro licence required to manage in the Airtricity League’s top flight but he will receive an exemption until the end of this season after which the club will become the latest one to bend the rules by putting a qualified person in the dugout with him.
O'Donnell takes over from Harry Kenny who was only appointed himself at the end of last year. Despite investment in the first team, performances were disappointing under the Dubliner and the club currently sits fifth in the table, six points behind Bohemians in third place and four behind Derry City although they do have a game in hand on both.
"I am very grateful to Garrett Kelleher to give me an opportunity to have my first job in management at such a big club," said O'Donnell, a winner of six league titles himself, four of them with Dundalk, as the news was announced on Saturday. "A lot of owners would probably not sign up to something risky.
“But I have full confidence in my own ability and in whatever staff I bring in with me, and the aim will be to really restore St Pat’s at the top end of the table and being challengers. I was a player when Richmond Park was rocking and I’m looking forward to help try and bring those nights back.”
Since being forced to retire from playing due to persistent injury, O’Donnell had been part of the management team at Dundalk who travel to Sligo Rovers on Monday evening.
John Mountney misses out again due to an ankle injury and the winger will see a specialist about the issue later in the week. Andy Boyle, Sean Murray and Jamie McGrath will all be assessed before the game. Dante Lererock is ruled out for the hosts while Johnny Dunleavy and Danny Kane will have tests.
Sligo Rovers v Dundalk, Cork City v Waterford (both 7.45).