Shane Keegan has admitted Dundalk need to improve off the field as when as on it if they are to improve as a club.

For the third week in-a-row, the weekly press conference at Oriel Park last Wednesday was dominated by a talking point not directly related to the upcoming game.

In the latest debacle, Dundalk were shocked to learn that Sonni Nattestad would be banned for two matches following his President’s Cup red card, with the Faroe Islands defender set to miss the crunch games with Shamrock Rovers on Friday and Bohemians on April 9th as the first match of his ban couldn’t count against Finn Harps last weekend because he was on international duty.

The article as it appeared in The Argus on March 30th 2021

Speaking about the matter, Keegan said: “We need to do our homework a little better.

“There has been a bit of turnover in the last while in terms of staff and we maybe weren’t as clued in as we needed to be.”

While Keegan’s comments highlight the fact that there isn’t a strong enough understanding of the FAI rules, supporters have been left increasingly frustrated by poor communication from the club in recent months.

On a personal note, I have made nine attempts to renew a season ticket dating back to last November with requests made in person and via email ignored while phone calls to Oriel Park have gone unanswered. I’m not alone in this regard.

Furthermore, as a player sponsor for the last few years it was surprising that I wasn’t asked again this year. Again, I’m not alone with one supporter of the club who has provided sponsorship over a 50 year period contacting me on Friday wondering why he hadn’t been asked.
Those complaints might seem small fry but with 29 player sponsorship opportunities vacant as per Friday’s programme, that equates to income of over €10,000 that the club are potentially missing out, not to mention the loss of season ticket revenue.

For much of the past year the club has provided more drama than shows like Fair City and the simple things not being done is impacting the mood of a number of people at Oriel Park, most notably the players.

Friday’s match against Finn Harps might have been the first at Oriel Park this year but even last year after Harry Taaffe’s passing the usual sight of the pitch being brushed before kick-off and watered has been absent with no one seemingly taking up a task which infuriates the team when it doesn’t happen.

Keegan himself has spent much of the past few weeks and months dealing with paperwork in the office. For someone who is supposed to be the top man at the club now, that shouldn’t be his job. It’s almost the equivalent of hiring an architect to design an extension for your home and instead getting him to cut the grass.

Padraig McGowan has recently been appointed club secretary and while he has been a magnificent servant and supporter of the club over a long period, he is ultimately a volunteer who has a full time job in Dublin that is, rightly so, his priority.

For a club that is supposed to be the biggest in the country and aiming to be ‘the European club in Ireland’ it is baffling that the simple tasks are being overlooked and that jobs of great importance are being given to volunteers at a time when players are being recruited for presumably big sums from across the globe, some of whom will never be good enough for the first team.

As Keegan pointed out, there has been a high turnover of staff over the winter but Jim Magilton is now in his role as sporting director for three months.

He has brought some improvements already – that’s not in question – but it’s baffling that the club is in a situation where there are regular drone cameras flying above Oriel Park for promotional videos and yet the club can’t seem to respond to emails or pick up the phone.

A bit like the results on the field so far, the club must do better off it.