Upheaval at Dundalk hasn’t proven a hindrance to everyone as Darragh Leahy is a new man under Vinny Perth’s guidance.
The left-back was a major addition from Bohemians at the start of last season, only to lose his place under the tenures of Filippo Giovagnoli and his caretaker Jim Magilton.
In a move typifying the unpredictability around Oriel Park, Perth was rehired seven weeks ago, prompting a comeback route for a player he’d originally brought to the club.
Together, aside from a couple of blips, they’ve helped introduce a semblance of stability to the Louth club.
Next up in their list of tests is Thursday’s Europa Conference League third round, first leg away to Dutch side Vitesse.
“I’d only played two games this season before Vinny came back,” explained Leahy, who represented Ireland’s U21s during the last European qualification campaign.
“I'm not going to lie, it was an extremely tough time, mentally more than anything.
“I'd never experienced or been in that situation before. You start to doubt yourself as to why you're not playing but I kept coming into training, not letting my standards drop for anyone.
“But I’ve seen how quickly football changes. There were a few conversations with Vinny and he said just go and prove yourself. That was reassuring because I was lacking in confidence.
Leahy has played his part in Dundalk’s turnaround.
Principally that’s been in defence but, as shown in Estonia last week, the 23-year-old’s penchant for joining the attack is crucial. A goal down on the night and on aggregate against Levadia Tallinn, Leahy roamed forward to help set up an equaliser for David McMillan that formed a bedrock in their 2-1 win.
Vitesse, fourth in last season’s Eredivisie, are unlikely to be as susceptible on the counterattack. Bringing something back from Thursday’s clash in Arnhem to their caretaker home of Tallaght next week is the mission.
He added: “Against Levadia we did have a good amount of time on the ball but, having watched a bit of Vitesse on video, I can't really see it being the same. They press really high up the pitch. It's different now with the away goals gone. You're going to go into every game hoping to win it but, against a side like this, a draw isn't a bad result.”
Unlike many of Dundalk’s memorable occasions in Europe over recent years, this fixture won’t be available to watch free-to-air. Neither were Bohemians last night, nor Shamrock Rovers later in the week.
“I don't see why they wouldn't have these games on TV,” he sighed. “With the whole Covid situation, not many fans can attend the games. And having the matches live showcases the league more on the European stage.”