Dundalk FC supporters were given a New Year’s boost on Sunday night with the news that Michael Duffy had signed a new contract to remain at Oriel Park for a fifth season.
The 26-year-old originally joined the Lilywhites from Celtic in 2017 and has been a crucial part of the side in recent seasons, even winning the PFAI Player of the Year award in 2018.
Speaking after confirmation of the deal, the club’s new sporting director Jim Magilton – who previously worked with the Derry man with the Northern Irish U-21 side – said he was thrilled to have Duffy back on board for 2021.
“My past experience with Michael was working with the U-21 squad so I knew the raw materials that he had and I knew that fine tuning Michael would take him to another level.
“You were thinking that would happen when he went to Celtic but with the disappointment of returning to Dundalk, some players come back from that experience and actually fall out of love with the game but it actually inspired Michael to do really good things.
“I personally was delighted that he chose to re-sign because he has been one of the best players in the league, there’s no question about that. He is a match winner on his day so securing his priority was a top priority for us – for the club, for the directors and for the chairman.
“I have to say the chairman was fantastic in the negotiations, obviously backed by the directors. We made Michael an offer and he has accepted it so we’re just chuffed to bits.”
Duffy’s new contract is for one year. While Dundalk had originally offered him a longer stay, it was the player’s preference to only commit for a further 12 months. Magilton said he had no issue with this and confirmed he would be ramping up negotiations with every player the club saw in their long term plans as soon as next season begins.
“It’s a one year deal,” confirmed the Lisburn man.
“The board and the chairman weighed it up and we respected Michael and his agent’s wishes on it. As we outlined last night when we were completing it, we’ll be renegotiating with our best players as soon as the league starts and if people get off to flying starts then we’ll be offering our best players contracts pretty soon.
“As you know, it’s about making sure players are happy in a challenging environment. Filippo and I know the kind of environment we want the players to return to and it has to be challenging because, as I said in the press conference before Christmas, Shamrock Rovers have laid down the gauntlet. They were so consistent last year in their levels of performance and we have to rise to that – not only us but all the sides in the League of Ireland.
“We want to make it as competitive as we possibly can, hence the reason why we’ve spent such a lot of time trying to recruit players.
“We’re better off having him next year than not and after that it will be up to Michael but everybody has come back in this surreal world that we’re now living in. Michael wants to play at the highest level. He has ambitions to play for the Republic of Ireland so if he wants to play at that level then he knows his performances have to be at the highest level every week or Stephen Kenny will either not look at him or not select him.
“The bonus is that Stephen has looked at players in the League of Ireland because he has vast experience in it and if he thinks they’re good enough he is going to throw them in,” said Magilton.