Robbie Benson said he felt he had achieved all he could at Oriel Park and needed a new challenge after departing Dundalk for St Patrick’s Athletic last week.

The 27-year-old, who joined the Lilywhites from UCD before the start of the 2016 season, brought his tenure at the club to a successful ending when he chipped in with his 28th goal on what was his 141st appearance as Dundalk won the Unite the Union Champions Cup in some style against Linfield on Monday last.

Speaking afterwards, the Athlone native said bowing out with silverware was a good way to go.

“It was a nice night to finish on,” he said.

‘To finish with silverware here kind of felt right. I informed the club that I wouldn’t be signing a new contract during the week. It was a hard decision but it just felt like the right time for me to move on and search for a new challenge.

“I just felt like the time was right for me. It would have been amazing to go out having won the treble and five trophies this year. That would have been more fitting but I think just overall I’ve done everything that I can possibly do here from a personal point of view. I’ve achieved everything that I can achieve.”

Benson said it was a tough decision to leave Dundalk.

“It was an emotional night. I’m going to miss it here. I’ve enjoyed my time here but the lads have been great about it and very supportive. I said to most of them tonight that this is my last day working with them but we’ll be friends forever.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Thanks to everyone, the staff, the players, the fans and everyone involved in the club that made my time here so enjoyable and successful as well.
“There’s no doubt that this club is going to be successful in the future but I like the story of my career in the early days, the middle days now and then going onto what could be my final chapter. I like the story and narrative of that.”

Benson, who has a degree in Actuarial Science, also denied that he was leaving to start his career in that field.

“It’s a football decision,” he said.

“It was hard walking away from here but to walk away from football entirely would be another matter. That’s down the line. I could play until I’m 30 or I could play until I’m 35 but once I’m enjoying it and I can feel like I can contribute and offer stuff to a team, there’s no better job in the world.

“The beginning, middle and end just felt right. Being able to choose when I go out myself, that it’s in my hands and it wasn’t that I wasn’t offered a new deal or that an injury ended stuff, I was able to choose that this was the ending to my time at Dundalk. When I made the decision it just felt right.

“It’s an emotional evening but at the same time it still feels good that I’m moving on. This team will be successful next year and beyond and I’m just glad I was able to share in some of the big nights that we’ve had over the last four seasons.

“Winning isn’t the be all and end all. I can’t really say there’s one particular reason. I’ve had a tough year this year myself. I think overall it’s just the right time to go. Something just feels right in my gut. It’s time for a new challenge and I look forward to playing for St Pat’s.”

Benson highlighted the club’s European adventure of 2016 – where he scored goals against BATE Borisov, Legia Warsaw and Zenit St Petersburg – as the highlight of his time at Dundalk.

“I’ve been so successful here. I’ve won three leagues, an FAI Cup, two League Cups and this one (the Unite the Union Champions Cup) but I think the night that was unique was probably the night at home to BATE and that kind of two or three month period where we were kind of on top of the world, as high as we can get as an Irish club really. I’d probably be lying if I said anything other than those are the nights that I’ll remember most,” he said.