The Great Dane - Massey enjoying life with defending League of Ireland champions

DANE Massey from Knocklyon has scaled the heights of League of Ireland soccer, winning three straight SSE Airtricity League titles with Dundalk along with FAI and League Cup medals.

Our reporter Niall Worthington caught up with the Lilywhites defender to chat to him about the success he has enjoyed with Stephen Kenny’s side, the challenges they face this season and the state of professional soccer in Ireland.

iddt 43 Dundalk FC 2 1 Bohemians 231016 20

You have been part of one of the most successful teams ever in the League of Ireland. What has that been like for you?

Yeah, it’s been a whirlwind since I signed. The first year obviously we signed a whole new squad. We had the likes of Pat Hogan, Richie Towel, Andy Boyle, players that weren’t really heard of at the time and we all had to gel very quickly.

Obviously Dundalk finished last the year previous and I think everybody took a chance. We came close the year we finished second.

It’s a very close knit group and the following three years we’ve won the league going into the fourth season hopefully we can do it again.

Can Dundalk make it a record-equalling four League of Ireland titles in a row?

It’s certainly going to be a lot harder this year. You can see the strength in a lot of other clubs. Shamrock Rovers have recruited well, Derry City as well, and it’s going to be a lot harder.

Obviously winning three titles in a row, we’re the target club, the team to beat, so everyone’s out to get you, and it’s going to be an uphill task.

Being champions, for three years. Does it get harder every season?

Yeah it is, it is hard. A lot of teams set up, especially when they come to Oriel, to sit back and keep it tight and try to catch us on the counter attack so it can be frustrating at times to play teams like that, but it’s really up to us now.

Oriel Park’s a great place to play and the atmosphere is always electric there, so yeah it’s really up to us to try to bring teams out and dominate possession and try to score.

Obviously we’ve got great attacking players as well, Patrick McEleny, Nicky Duffy, Conor Clifford signed from Chelsea so we’ve big names this year and there’s a lot of expectation throughout the squad so I think we’ve a good group of players who want to do well.

Do you feel this season might be harder for Dundalk with the departure of players like Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle to Preston and Ronan Finn to Shamrock Rovers?

Yeah obviously we’ve lost a serious amount of players this year, but look, it’s been this way over the last four years. We lost Pat Hogan the first year.

He was probably one of the best strikers in the league at the time and there were a lot of question marks over what we were going to do.

The following year we lost Richie Towel and obviously last year we’ve lost Andy and Daryl so it’s up to the gaffer to sign well and I think he has done.

We’ve signed well this year, We’ve signed big name players who can perform on the big stage as well which is important. The squad we have now is probably the most competitive we’ve had in the last four years so it’s a good sign.

How does Stephen Kenny rate as a manger to you?

Stephen Kenny, I have to be nice here, say good things! No, Stephen is an absolute gentleman, obviously. I’ve had managers like Eddie Gormley Pat Devlin, big names in the League of Ireland and they were great managers too, but I think it’s just Stephen’s attention to detail really.

Monday it’s who we’re playing the following week, we’ll be watching videos of them, we’ll do an hour of video and set-pieces on Thursday so yeah I think it’s his attention to detail really that sets him apart from any other manager I’ve had.

You were part of Dundalk’s incredible run in Europe last year. Do you think the team can replicate or even improve on that success?

I think we definitely can replicate it or even go on hopefully. We got so close to qualifying for the Champions League group stages.

Obviously we got into the Europa League and it was a great experience, probably the best I’ve ever had in my career. We played in Poland, we played Maccabi in Israel, Zenit in Russia, so yeah we were playing against international quality players and for Dundalk to compete at that level was fantastic as well.

And we did really well so this year we have our goal set. We definitely think we can qualify again for the Europa League group stages but now we want to go one better and qualify for the Champions League.

We were so close, but it’s definitely going to take a lot of effort, but I think we definitely have the squad this year.

Could Dundalk become victims of their own success in that the team’s involvement in Europe has left the players with less time to recuperate and prepare for this season?

We finished on the 10th of December. We flew home from Israel, probably everyone else in the league was finished for four to five weeks so they’d a longer rest.

We were back in pre-season on the 8th of January so we’d just about four weeks off which was a bit of a bummer but look, we all got our holidays and it was nice to be off for Christmas with our families and to have a bit of down time because it was a crazy year, but it was really enjoyable, it was a great year for everyone involved.

Do you feel the standard in the League of Ireland is improving?

I think especially the last four years the standard has raised considerably. We had the FAI step in, and they’ve brought in their own thing which has contributed to the league a massive amount and now they’re looking at making it a ten team league next year which is questionable, relegating three teams and then bringing another team up.

It is a tough one, it’s been questionable what the FAI have done for the league over the last couple of years, I know it’s a touchy subject with a lot of the clubs so it is a tough one that it is going to be a ten-team league next year but hopefully it works out.

What more can be done to support League of Ireland teams and help keep more players at home?

I think there has to be a lot done with promoting the league. We see guys going over to England at 15, 16, signing for English clubs which is intimidating enough you know.

Going over, leaving home, and leaving school which is crazy to be honest. Dundalk, what we did last year I think was a massive help, getting into the Europa League group stages, hopefully young lads across the country can see that they can play at that level and also compete at that level and stay at home and still play at a reasonably high standard.

Are the new Under 17 and Under 19 National Leagues a beneficial step for the League?

I think it’s a good move. It obviously gives the younger players a chance. Schoolboy clubs’ competitiveness isn’t really there from the 17s on, and by that time you’ve either made it or you haven’t and you’re going into senior football at a young age whereas with the new 17s and 19s National Leagues it has players playing at a competitive level within the home teams. 

Bohemians, Dundalk, Drogheda all have 17s and 19s teams which is great. I think it gives young lads an opportun-ity to take the step up and progress with their careers while staying at home.

Prev Provincial podium spots for Templeogue
Next Miele: “We’ve just got to match their energy”

  • Fire in Cookstown Industrial Estate
  • Looking to #ShopLocal?
  • Take a virtual tour around Greenhills Community College with some of its students!
  • #ThinkShopSupportLocal
  • The Square celebrates 30 years in Tallaght

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.