The resolution of long-standing legal problems surrounding their lease at Oriel Park means Dundalk can now undertake an upgrading of their controversial pitch, among other badly needed improvements to the stadium.
However, it is evident the dispute with former owner Gerry Matthews has not ended amicably. In the club’s official statement on the matter, they depart from diplomatic language to say they are “compelled to state that, unfortunately, there was absolutely no goodwill between Dundalk Football Club and Mr Matthews at the conclusion of this process”.
Oriel Park has already been visited by pitch specialists with a view to a new playing surface being put in place for the start of the 2017 season. With the club having also purchased the adjacent Youth Development facility, Dundalk say they are now looking at how they can make “best use of the building for the good of our club and community”.
The statement thanks FAI chief executive John Delaney for his advice and support in the process, the successful resolution of which, says club chairman and co-owner Paul Brown, means the club can continue “moving forward in the right direction, both on and off the field”.
This is the 80th year Dundalk have played at Oriel Park since the land was provided to the club by the Casey family back in 1936, and Dundalk’s new Honorary President, Des Casey, said he was “pleased and relieved after such a fractious period the integrity of the lease on Oriel Park had been restored”.
Meanwhile, Cork City have announced the signing of a comprehensive partnership agreement between University College Cork, Mardyke Arena and the club.
The three-year agreement represents a significant deal for City, including front and rear jersey sponsorship, player fitness, training and rehabilitation support and university scholarships and educational supports for Cork City players.
“Working with Cork City Football Club in recent years, we have seen how our values are very much aligned,” UCC President Dr Michael Murphy said. “This announcement represents a real deepening in our partnership, which goes beyond typical sponsorship deals. It reinforces our shared belief that sport and education together are a winning combination for success.”
Cork City Chairman Pat Lyons said: “Working together over the last four years, we have leveraged the superb facilities at UCC and the Mardyke Arena for our players.
“Certainly, this has helped us achieve our success to date, including winning the FAI Cup this year. Now, together with UCC, we are building further on our player development, availing of the extensive research network and data analytics and creating pathways for juniors, senior and retiring players in education for their sporting and personal development as well as their future careers.”
Diarmuid Collins, chairman of the Mardyke Arena and chief financial officer, UCC, added: “As a centre for sporting excellence, we too share the same passion and commitment as the winning Cork City team, and we look forward to working with players, coaches and managements the coming seasons.”
Meanwhile, in other significant news, Shamrock Rovers have announced midfielder Darren Meenan will join their squad when his season finishes with Dundalk. Said Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley: “We have got one of the best wingers in the country in Darren Meenan. He’s a top player and a great pro - we are delighted to have him.”