NEW Verona manager Paul Perth has challenged his squad to rally together for the second half of the season to turn the ailing Blanch club’s fortunes around.
Verona have suffered successive relegations from LSL Sunday Senior to Senior 1A in the past two seasons and have struggled again this season.
After winning three of their first four games (one of which was expunged when Sacred Hearts dropped out) they went on a run of ten straight defeats. That finally came to an end on Friday evening when Verona travelled to Beggsboro and secured a 2-2 draw, but manager Garrett Dodrill had already paid the price for poor form.
Perth knows a thing or two about reigniting the fortunes of a club at a low ebb, having taken Newbridge from 1A back to the top tier.
He may have a more difficult time in Blanchardstown, however, competing with local powerhouse St Mochta’s and a young squad with studies and work to contend with.
The youth worker from Tallaght likens the challenge to the one he faced when he took over Newbridge in 2015, only with slightly less room to manoeuvre.
“When we took over Newbridge they were in 1A as well and they were after getting relegated,” Perth tells the Dublin Gazette.
“It was the same type of challenge, I suppose. The only difference from a manager’s point of view is with Newbridge I was starting from the start of the season.
“You can big it up and create a bit of hype going in that you’re going to win leagues and you can attract players.
“Coming in with Verona at the bottom of the league, it’s hard to generate that kind of hype and say to fellas we can win something, and do something special.
“Fellas are looking at league tables and saying, ‘yeah, right, you’re a spoofer.’ For me, that was the difference.”
Perth brought in a few fresh faces in January, most notably goalkeeper Mark O’Connor, who finished 2018 at Bray Wanderers, and Stephen Best from Newbridge.
Two of the young players already at the club, Aaron O’Hanlon and Yusuf Shushan, gave his side a healthy lead against Beggsboro.
Verona played the final 15 minutes with ten men, however, and goals from Brian Voakes and Stephen Fitzpatrick, in the last minutes, denied Perth his first win as manager.
The manager is adamant the talent is there for Verona to not only survive in the third tier but to take the club back to the heights of recent years.
“For fear of sounding like my dad, it’s a reflection on junior football. On Friday night we struggled to have a squad.
“With the Saturday and the Sunday teams, you’ve good numbers but you’re always missing three, four, maybe five of the lads you’d planned starting.
“I suppose it’s indicative of junior football at the moment. That’s the way it’s gone. We’ve 60 lads signed for the club, probably more, and you’re struggling to field teams sometimes.
“That’s not just Verona – there are a lot of teams like that. There are a lot of teams in Blanchardstown as well. You’ve Corduff and Hartstown Huntstown, and you’ve St Mochta’s dominating and taking their pick of who they want, and rightly so because they’re in the Senior Division.
“If everybody is committed and everybody turns up, there’s no reason Verona can’t be challenging for leagues and not fighting relegation, and that’s a fact.”