Perth hails Kenny influence as he lands PFAI manager title

by Dave Donnelly

Killinarden’s Vinny Perth has been named PFAI manager of the year by his peers after guiding Dundalk to a league and EA Sports Cup double in his first year as manager.

Perth saw off competition from Jobstown’s Stephen Bradley, who led Shamrock Rovers to a first FAI Cup in 32 years after beating Dundalk in the final, and Bohemians boss Keith Long to take the gong.

The 43-year-old took over from his friend, and another Tallaght native, Stephen Kenny at the end of last season when the latter ascended to become Republic of Ireland under-21 boss.

Kenny brought Perth into the League of Ireland as a player with Longford Town in 1998, and brought him in as assistant manager when he took the reins at Dundalk in 2013.

Perth helped the Lilywhites to four Premier Division titles and two FAI Cups under Kenny’s stewardship before assuming the head coach position in November.

Dundalk sealed the title with four games to spare as a 3-2 victory over Rovers at Oriel Park gave them an unassailable 15-point lead.

A penalty shoot-out win over holders Derry City at Oriel Park wrapped up the EA Sports Cup title a month earlier.

A historic treble was on the cards, should Dundalk have managed to deny Rovers a record 25th cup crown, but it wasn’t to be.

Dundalk looked dead and buried when Aaron McEneff converted a penalty in the final minute of normal time at the Aviva, but Michael Duffy struck late to force extra time.

However, there wouldn’t be a repeat of the finale in Derry as missed penalties from Duffy and Daniel Cleary ensured the silverware went back to Tallaght Stadium.

“I owe Stephen a huge amount,” Perth confessed after the Lilywhites wrapped up the double in October.

“He plucked me from Cherry Orchard and gave me a chance to play in the League of Ireland for Longford Town.

“Seven years ago, he plucked me from Malahide United and gave me a chance to work for him here. He left a legacy. It means a lot to me that I’ve been able to continue on with his good work.

“I’ve not done what Stephen has done. It’s only year one, it’s a starting point. I want the pressure that comes with managing this club.

“We’ve come a long way in this club.

“Winning trophies, other people take them for granted but we appreciate how hard people work.”

Kilnamanagh’s Katie McCabe lost out to Denise O’Sullivan in the running for senior international player of the year, while ex-Rovers defender Enda Stevens won best overseas player.

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