Alan Reynolds hasn’t always had the best experience of Oriel Park.
He was part of a Waterford side which lost a play-off 3-0 to Dundalk in 1997 in a game best remembered for the controversial two goal contribution of Jeff McNamara who only signed the day before the game and would only play twice for the club in total.
“I don’t know where we came out of or where he went after,” the new Dundalk FC assistant was able to laugh last week.
In more recent times Reynolds wasn’t able to get the better of the Lilywhites at the Carrick Road venue either, with a 94th minute Garry Comerford own goal denying the Blues a point on their first visit to Oriel on their promotion back to the top flight in 2018.
Now that he’ll be in the home dug out, Reynolds is hoping that his fortunes will change.
Speaking to The Argus after officially being confirmed as Vinny Perth’s new assistant last week, the 46-year-old said he couldn’t wait to get going in his new role and continue the success the club has enjoyed in recent years.
“My experience of Oriel down through the years is the place rocking.
“The crowd get behind their team here. Obviously the demands are high because the fans now are so used to success but when the place gets going the stream train is very hard to stop.”
Little did Reynolds think back in March that his next venture into a dugout would be with a Dundalk tracksuit on rather than a Waterford one though.
“Football is a mad game but it has been even madder after what has gone on for the last few months,” he said.
“My last game in charge of Waterford, we scored a winner with virtually the last kick of the game to beat Derry 2-1. After something like that you’re happy and you’re planning to go forward etc but then obviously the Coronavirus comes in and sets everything back.
“It’s well documented what went on with Waterford with the owner and the communication etc. Then in between Ruaidhrí Higgins moved on and Vinny was looking for a replacement so the club got a call from someone in Dundalk and from there we just met. I went up and saw the place. The facilities are really impressive and I know the players that are there so it was something that I was very interested in.”
While it is unusual for a manager to step down from a main position to become assistant, it’s not something that phases Reynolds after signing a short-term deal until the end of the season.
“It’s not something that bothers me,” he said.
“I’ve been an assistant before. Further down the line a return to management wouldn’t be something that I’d rule out but at this moment in time it suited me and it suited Vinny to do things for the short term and see how it goes.
“It’s important that I adapt to being an assistant and working with Vinny and John Gill and it’s important for me that they have a look at what I bring to the table. There’s no point in rushing in and either of us regretting it so we both felt it was the best thing to do it for the short term and then all going well we can see what happens going forward.”
Reynolds previously worked with Perth at Derry City while they also played together at Longford Town. Now he says he will help the Dundalk boss in any way he can to improve what is already a highly successful squad.
“We wouldn’t be best friends or anything like that but we’ve always respected each other and had a good relationship and that’s what it’s all about,” he said of Perth.
“I’m there to help Vinny with anything that he wants and I’ll do as much as I can do for him and the players. That’s my aim because it’s obviously in everyone’s interests for it to be successful.
“Being here, I suppose I’ll be working with a different quality of player and a different age profile as well. A lot of the lads I had at Waterford were 19 or 20 whereas a lot of this squad have been around a while and have plenty of experience.
“I’ll look forward to working with them and trying to improve them as players. I’m sure they’ll be receptive to that but the challenges are different. When I was at Waterford I would have been trying to possibly get to Europe initially and this year it would have been to try and stay in the division. Here, there is a different challenge but I’ve been here before with Cork, Derry and Pat’s so it’s something that doesn’t phase me.”
Perth is on the record as saying his side’s best performance of last season was away to Waterford in the RSC towards the end of the season so Reynolds knows fully well what Dundalk’s capabilities are when at full flight.
“Ah stop!,” he laughed when that game was put to him.
“On that night Patrick McEleney put on a show that I wouldn’t have seen in the League of Ireland that often. Dundalk were excellent that night on a good pitch. They really exposed us and showed that they have different levels.
“I know all about them and all their players. There’s real quality and they’re all fighting to get into the team because it’s a big squad and Vinny is trying to improve that all the time and make things better. That’s no disrespect to anyone that has gone before but it’s what a manager’s job is – to try and build on the success that has already been there.”
Asked who he was most looking forward to working with, Reynolds couldn’t single out any one player.
“I’ve worked with Sean Hoare before at Pat’s for a short spell but I look at Daniel Cleary and really like him. Having been a midfielder myself I’d obviously appreciate what Greg Sloggett and Chris Shields do so I’ll be seeing can I improve or help them.
“There are a lot of really good players there. Michael Duffy is another who is excellent and Sean Gannon but the list goes on. I could name you all of them because they’re all really good players.
“I’m here to try and improve them. It will be tough but you have to remember that everyone is chasing Dundalk so we have to keep improving and pushing on ourselves,” he said.
Oriel Park hasn’t always been the happiest of venues for Reynolds but now that he is in the home dugout, hopefully that is all about to change.