Two dropped points the least of Dundalk's problems as Jim Magilton insists it's business as usual at Oriel

With suggestions that Filippo Giovagnoli could follow Shane Keegan out the door, the problems off the field may not be over for the FAI Cup holders.
Two dropped points the least of Dundalk's problems as Jim Magilton insists it's business as usual at Oriel

UNDER PRESSURE: St. Pats' John Mountney and Robbie Benson tussle with Chris Shields of Dundalk in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Oriel Park.

Airtricity League Premier Division: Dundalk 1 St Pat's 1

Dundalk sporting director Jim Magilton has refused to be drawn on the club’s management setup following manager Shane Keegan’s departure from Oriel Park earlier Saturday.

The former Northern Ireland international issued a firm 'no comment' on anything bar the match action after his side’s 1-1 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic. Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe found the net five minutes from time to earn Dundalk just their second point from five matches to cancel out Sam Bone’s 56th minute header but all the focus was on the Lilywhites dugout following Keegan’s decision to walk away from the club on the eve of the game. 

His exit came just 40 days after being appointed team manager as the Louth men looked to get around the fact that Filippo Giovagnoli - who had been named head coach last December - had no UEFA Pro Licence.

Magilton, who only took up his role before Christmas, was named as interim manager on the teamsheet for the clash with Stephen O’Donnell’s men but watched on from the stands as Giovagnoli took his place in the dugout.

Speculation raged beforehand that the Italian could be following Keegan out the exit door at Oriel Park but Magilton refused to say whether the man who guided the club to the Europa League group stages and an FAI Cup last year would be in charge when they travel to face Derry City on Tuesday.

“We’ll make a statement in due course. So, if you want to talk about the game, we can talk about game,” said Magilton.

When pressed that it was difficult to talk about the game without factoring in the change in the dugout, the ex-Ipswich Town boss said: “We will clarify all this in due course, I promise you that. We will clarify everything that you want to ask and that will be done in the next few days I’m sure.” 

STILL SMILING: Dundalk coach Filippo Giovagnoli during the game on Saturday
STILL SMILING: Dundalk coach Filippo Giovagnoli during the game on Saturday

Asked had Giovagnoli also left, Magilton reiterated: “We will clarify everything in the next few days, I promise you that.” 

When it was put to him that supporters were concerned with banners hung beforehand saying the club was ‘run like a circus’, Magilton dismissed the unrest and backed the squad to turn things around.

“Well if you’ve lost three out four, what were they, 20 kids? At the end of the day nobody is working harder than the people within this football club to turn results around - players, staff, everyone - and we know that the start hasn’t been what we wanted it to be. We’re off to a slow start but these are good players - really, really good players - but confidence is massive in the game and a little bit of doubt creeps in and self-belief but that was a massive result for them tonight.

“No matter how good you are at the end of the day when you’re going through that little spell you start doubting yourself. It’s our job to pick them up and give them confidence because they are really, really good players.” 

Asked had chairman Bill Hulsizer had an influence on first-team affairs, Magilton said: “No. He doesn’t get involved in anything. Nothing.” 

When it was put to him that Hulsizer had interfered in the past, Magilton replied with: “Well it won’t happen on my watch.

“We keep reflecting on last year but we made a decision this year, a conscious decision, to build our coaching structure and that’s what we’ve done and we’re not going to go away from that. We won’t change that.” 

Asked did the players know who would be leading them in Derry on Tuesday, he added: “They will know. We are in tomorrow in preparation for the game.”

Dundalk's rocky start to the season got worse as Keegan walked away from the club ahead of their clash with Pat's. The Laois man was appointed as the top man, on paper at least, at the start of the season after the club made a decision to demote Filippo Giovagnoli from head coach to coach to get around the fact he did not meet Pro Licence requirements.

The Italian still remained in charge of all affairs at the Co Louth club though with Keegan's input in first-team matters extremely limited.

The former Galway Utd boss has now opted to walk away from Dundalk, having initially come to the club as opposition analyst under Giovagnoli's predecessor Vinny Perth ahead of the 2020 season.

DUNDALK: Abibi; Jurkovskis, Cleary, Boyle, Dummigan (Leahy 78); Shields, Stanton (McMillan 78); Han (Junior 59), Midtskogen, Duffy; Hoban.

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Jaros; Mountney, Bone, Desmond, Bermingham; Forrester, Lennon (Lewis 87); Coughlan (King 69), Benson, McClelland (Barrett 49); Smith. 

Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo).

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