|Full name||Dundalk Football Club|
as Dundalk G.N.R. A.F.C.
|Capacity||4,500 (3,100 seated)|
|Owner||Dundalk Town FC Limited|
|Head Coach||Vinny Perth|
|League||League of Ireland Premier Division|
Dundalk Football Club (//; Irish: Cumann Peile Dhún Dealgan) is a professional association football club in Dundalk, Ireland. Dundalk compete in the League of Ireland Premier Division, the top tier of Irish football, and are the League Champions and FAI Cup holders, having won the Double in 2018. Founded in 1903 as the works-team of the Great Northern Railway, they played in junior competition until joining the Leinster Senior League in 1922. After playing four seasons at that level, they were elected to the Free State League (which later became the League of Ireland) on 15 June 1926.
Dundalk became the first club outside of Dublin to win the League title in 1932–33, and have won at least one League title or FAI Cup in every decade since. They are now the second most successful club in the League's history, and the most successful in the Premier Division era. The club has played at Oriel Park since moving from its original home at the Dundalk Athletic Grounds in 1936. The team has played in white shirts since 1928, and adopted the present colours of white shirts, with black shorts and trim, in 1940. The club's crest was also adopted in 1928, and is based on the town's Coat of Arms.
Dundalk made their European debut as League Champions in the 1963–64 European Cup, and became the first Irish side to win an away match in Europe the same season. In the 2016–17 Europa League they became the first team from Ireland to win points in the Group Stages of European competition. Having qualified for Europe over 20 times, they are now the highest ranked Irish side as measured by UEFA club coefficients.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origins (1885–1925)
- 1.2 League of Ireland early years (1926–1965)
- 1.3 Takeover and the Fox era (1966–1974)
- 1.4 Jim McLaughlin era (1975–1983)
- 1.5 Turlough O'Connor era (1985–1993)
- 1.6 Decline and relegation (1993–2002)
- 1.7 Promotion and upheaval (2006–2012)
- 1.8 Stephen Kenny's golden era (2013–2018)
- 1.9 As you were (2019–)
- 1.10 Dundalk F.C. in European football
- 2 Colours and crest
- 3 Home grounds
- 4 Supporters
- 5 Players
- 6 Personnel
- 7 Ownership and finances
- 8 Records
- 9 Honours
- 10 References
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
The Dundalk Great Northern Railway (G.N.R.) Football Club was established around 1885, initially as a rugby football club. In September 1903 it switched codes to association football, thus setting in motion its journey to becoming the modern day Dundalk Football Club. At first the club played challenge matches against other teams in the area, including sides from British Army regiments garrisoned in the town. It then became a founder member of the first Dundalk & District League (DDL), which was formed in 1906. There are no records of the club being active between the 1907–08 and 1912–13 seasons, however for 1913–14 it rejoined the DDL. The local league was dormant again during the First World War, but Dundalk G.N.R. did compete in both the Irish Junior Cup and Leinster Junior Cup competitions in 1913–14, 1914–15 and 1916–17. The club appears to have been inactive again in the 1917–18 and 1918–19 seasons due to the war, but it re-formed for 1919–20, affiliated with the Leinster Football Association, and joined both the revived DDL and the Newry and District League. After reaching a Leinster Junior Cup final, and dominating the local scene for three seasons, Dundalk G.N.R. joined the Leinster Senior League for 1922–23. They played four seasons at Leinster Senior League level, before being elected to the League of Ireland on 15 June 1926 to replace Pioneers.
League of Ireland early years (1926–1965)
On 21 August 1926 the team, still known as Dundalk G.N.R. and under the management of Joe McCleery, travelled to Cork to face Fordsons in the opening match of the 1926–27 League of Ireland, going on to finish eighth in their debut season. In order to grow beyond the restrictions imposed by being a works-team, the club's management committee decided to make it independent of the Great Northern Railway company. By the end of 1928–29 the club's "G.N.R." moniker had been dropped (that season's Leinster Cup final being the last occasion it competed as "Dundalk G.N.R." formally). Runners-up finishes in both League and FAI Cup in 1930–31 gave the management committee confidence to press ahead, and the club was converted to a membership-based limited company – "Dundalk Association Football Club Limited" – on 25 January 1932.
Playing their home matches at the Athletic Grounds near the centre of the town, and with English manager Steve Wright in his own words "doing everything except selling the programmes", Dundalk became the first team outside of Dublin to win the League in 1932–33. Indeed, they were the first team outside Dublin or Belfast to win a League title in Ireland since the inception of the Irish League in 1890. Due to the Athletic Grounds being a municipal facility shared with other sports, the club decided to move permanently to land made available by the Casey family on the Carrick Road in 1936, naming the new ground "Oriel Park". They would not win the title again for 30 years, and finding the resources to sustain a League challenge was always difficult in the early decades. However, success in the cup competitions kept the club alive.
Dundalk won their first Dublin City Cup in the 1937–38 season, defeating Cork in the final, then, after three previous FAI Cup Final defeats, they finally won their first FAI Cup with victory over Cork United in the 1942 final at Dalymount Park. This victory ended what supporters had come to see as a jinx – that Dundalk would never win the Cup, given the previous defeats (in addition to five Leinster Senior Cup final defeats) since they had joined the League. Five weeks later they were unofficially crowned "Champions of All Ireland", when they won the final of the inaugural Dublin and Belfast Inter-City Cup. The following September, in the new season, a second Dublin City Cup was added. Both the Dublin City Cup and the FAI Cup were won again in 1948–49, the latter with victory over Shelbourne in the final, to close out the 1940s.
The 1950s were a lean time for Dundalk in the League. Player sales to English clubs following World War 2 had bankrolled the club in the late 1940s, and the management committee had gambled the surplus on a number of full time professionals in 1948–49. But, despite the Cup double, improved gate receipts did not meet increased expenses. Furthermore, player sales tailed off after the departure of Club Secretary Sam Prole to Drumcondra in early 1953. Struggling to make ends meet and obliged to reign in costs drastically, Dundalk hovered around the bottom of the League table throughout the decade. But they finally won the Leinster Senior Cup for the first time in 1950–51, then went on to win their third and fourth FAI Cups – defeating Cork Athletic in the 1952 final after a replay, and Shamrock Rovers in the 1958 final.
Dundalk went into 1960 at the top of the League table, and, though they fell away that season, it lead to optimism that the lean years might be coming to an end. A second Leinster Senior Cup was won in 1960–61, then, with trainer Gerry McCourt (a veteran of the 1932–33 League winning side), the club won its first League title for 30 years in 1962–63. Following that success, Dundalk entered European competition for the first time, where they became the first Irish side to win an away leg of a European tie, by beating FC Zurich 2–1 (in a 4–2 aggregate defeat) in the 1963–64 European Cup. But over the following two seasons the team fell away again, and by the end of 1965 it was clear that the club's liabilities, the condition of Oriel Park, and the need to rebuild the playing squad, were challenges beyond the membership-based ownership model.
Takeover and the Fox era (1966–1974)
A new Public Limited Company took the club over in January 1966, after the voluntary liquidation of the old company. The new board set about investing in Oriel Park, which involved turning the pitch 90 degrees, building a new stand and adding player and spectator facilities. The board also invested heavily in new players and a new player/manager, Alan Fox, signed from Bradford. The pay-off was immediate. Dundalk finally won their first League of Ireland Shield after 40 years of League membership, then followed up the Shield success by romping to the League title ahead of Bohemians by seven points – a huge margin in the days of two points for a win and 22 games. This third League title brought the club's only League and Shield Double. To cap a memorable season, Dundalk also won the Top Four Cup.
Early the following season Oriel Park tasted European football for the first time, hosting Vasas SC of Hungary under newly installed floodlights. The town swelled with pride at what its club was achieving. But a breakdown in relationships was to scupper the progress that had been made. Fox fell out with the board of directors during the trip for the return leg of the tie in Budapest, and was eventually released in March 1968 – despite Dundalk being well placed to retain the title – and they subsequently stumbled to a runners-up spot. Fox's final success at Oriel Park was the Dublin City Cup of 1967–68. 1968–69 started with a Fairs Cup win over DOS Utrecht, but saw them drift in the League – a fourth-place finish and a Dublin City Cup (the club's fifth and last before the competition was discontinued) being all that the remnants of Fox's team could muster.
Just like ten years earlier, Dundalk entered the new decade at the top of the League. Future Ireland manager Liam Tuohy had taken over in the summer of 1969 and had also joined the club's board. He made an instant impression with his tactical and organisational skills. But due to the capital debt from the rebuild of Oriel Park, Tuohy was obliged to thin the squad and slash the wage bill. Over the previous few seasons the youth team had been neglected, and Tuohy blooded young players by putting them straight into the first team. But it was too much to build a side that could sustain a title challenge, and he eventually quit almost three years to the day after joining the club, criticising a lack of local support in the process. In his three seasons, Tuohy's sides won the 1970–71 Leinster Senior Cup, and the club's second and final Shield in 1971–72.
Dundalk had to sell or release a number of players to survive after Tuohy left. As a result, the club slid down the League, with a young, inexperienced squad finishing second from bottom in the table in 1972–73. The club's worst season since the 1950s brought the 'Fox era' to a close. To recover the situation, a new board took over the running of the club, and hired English player/manager John Smith from Walsall. After renegotiating the club's debts, they were able to provide Smith with the funds to sign a number of players. There was a fast start to the new season, and a Leinster Senior Cup win over Bohemians in a replay. but a 10-game winless streak that winter, and early cup exits the following season, saw Smith quit two matches into the 1974–75 League schedule for a job outside football, paving the way for the appointment of Jim McLaughlin.
Jim McLaughlin era (1975–1983)
It was under McLaughlin, appointed player/manager on 20 November 1974, that Dundalk recovered and reached a new level of success. Despite a still-meagre playing budget, they cruised to his first League title (the club's fourth) in 1975–76, losing only one match in the process, which brought European football back to the town for the first time since 1969. In the following season's European Cup, Dundalk met PSV Eindhoven and were deemed unlucky to only draw the first leg in Oriel Park. That match started an unbeaten run in Europe in Oriel Park of eight matches over the following five seasons. League form was mixed for the next two seasons, but with renewed focus another title followed in 1978–79. Dundalk then defeated Waterford in the FAI Cup final, thereby completing the club's first League and Cup Double. The Double winning side's 1979–80 European Cup run, where they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the quarter-finals (going down 3–2 on aggregate to Celtic in front of Oriel Park's record attendance), was the club's best European performance until 2016.
McLaughlin delivered two more FAI Cups during his reign – defeating Limerick United in the 1977 final, and Sligo Rovers in the 1981 final. To cap an unprecedented period of success in the club's history, his sides also won Dundalk's first two League Cups, and two Leinster Senior Cups. Following two seasons as runners-up, McLaughlin's third and final League title at Dundalk arrived in 1981–82, after an early season 10-point gap to Bohemians was overhauled. However it was Bohemians that came out of a four match, seven and a half hour FAI Cup semi-final odyssey, depriving him of a shot at a second Double. A trophy-less 1982–83 season, in which Dundalk slipped to third in the League and missed out on Europe, signalled that the team was entering a transition period. However McLaughlin shocked the board and fans by resigning in June 1983, saying he needed a change.
McLaughlin's trophy haul while at Dundalk: three League titles, three FAI Cups, two League of Ireland Cups and two Leinster Senior Cups.
Turlough O'Connor era (1985–1993)
Former Dundalk player Turlough O'Connor was appointed as manager ahead of the League's split into two divisions in 1985–86. He had to rebuild the team following the departure over the previous two years of almost all of the players McLaughlin had left behind. But O'Connor quickly built a formidable squad of his own and, over the following eight seasons, his Dundalk sides consistently finished in the top four. After winning the League Cup in 1986–87, his first trophy as manager at the club, they finished as runners-up to Shamrock Rovers in both League and Cup, which brought European football back to Oriel Park for the first time in five years. The following season started with a visit from Cup Winners' Cup holders Ajax Amsterdam, and ended with the club's second League and Cup Double, with the Cup being won against Jim McLaughlin's Derry City.
O'Connor won his second League Cup in 1989–90, and another League title followed in 1990–91 in an end of season, winner takes all match in Turner's Cross against Cork City. But Dundalk spurned an opportunity to progress in the European Cup, when a 1–1 draw away to Honved was followed by a 0–2 home defeat. Attendances started to drop alarmingly, as an ageing team was getting less competitive and the new English Premier League on BSkyB was growing rapidly in popularity. A defeat in the 1993 FAI Cup final, in which eight of the team were over 30, showed that the squad required a major rebuild. The 1993–94 season started erratically – with good away victories being followed by defeats at home. After a defeat to Monaghan United in Oriel in October, during which he was abused by a section of the crowd, O'Connor resigned – a sour end to a successful reign.
Turlough O'Connor left Dundalk with two League titles, one FAI Cup and two League Cups to his name.
Decline and relegation (1993–2002)
By the end of the 1992–93 season Dundalk Football Club was facing into severe headwinds – a new squad was required, Oriel Park needed upgrading, yet income was falling with some of the lowest attendances in memory. A healthy surplus in 1989 had become a serious deficit by 1993, so a poor 1993–94 season happened at the worst possible time. Dundalk had moved quickly to replace Turlough O'Connor with another former player – Jim McLaughlin protege Dermot Keely, who had won a League, two FAI Cups and one League Cup under McLaughlin at Dundalk. A lot of the older players had departed, and a thin squad struggled – missing out on the "Top Six" round-robin format that decided the title, with the result that the club played out the final third of the season in a meaningless Bottom Six round-robin in a near deserted Oriel Park.
The 1994–95 season had barely started when the long-feared financial crisis came to a crunch that October. Unlike the capital debt crisis that caused the club's decline in the early '70s, the issue was now one of cashflow – matchday revenue and sponsorship were nowhere near enough to match the club's operating costs and it was effectively insolvent. Local businessmen formed a new Interim Company to take over the club (and its debts), saving it from bankruptcy. The club had flirted with extinction and had a paper-thin squad, yet against that background Keely steered Dundalk to a ninth League title. In 20 seasons between 1975 and 1995 Dundalk Football Club had won a combined total of 14 Leagues, FAI Cups and League Cups, and had competed regularly in Europe. But even the 1994–95 title success could not halt the decline.
Keely would not see out the title defence, quitting midway through the 1995–96 season – supposedly frustrated at being unable to strengthen his squad. The following season Dundalk were stuck in the bottom three, and had to survive an end of season promotion/relegation play-off. But it only prolonged the inevitable. The club turned to Jim McLaughlin to come out of retirement and try and turn things around. However the financial issues reared their head again and, the night of a morale-boosting victory over defending champions St Patrick's Athletic at the end of November in 1998–99, the whole squad was transfer listed. An end of season collapse saw the club drop from the top-tier for the first time since joining the League. Relegation was confirmed following a home defeat to UCD, 20-years to the day after the club had won its first Double.
With a supporters' Co-Op due to take over the club, some optimism returned, and initial expectations were of an immediate return to the top-flight. But the reality of life in the lower tier kicked in. After recovering from a poor start to the 1999–2000 season, a losing battle with the League and Kilkenny City over the latter playing an improperly registered player, (which reached the High Court), was the first hurdle to trip up the Co-Op. But under a new manager – former player Martin Murray – and with a lot of new players, Dundalk were promoted as First Division Champions in 2000–01. Despite seeming well-equipped for the return to the top-flight, they were relegated again the following season, with the League being reduced to 10 teams. Nonetheless they picked themselves up to win a ninth FAI Cup a week later, with victory over Bohemians in the final.
Promotion and upheaval (2006–2012)
After being relegated again, Dundalk languished in the lower reaches of the First Division for the next four seasons. With the Co-Op ownership experiment exhausted, the club was taken back into private ownership by its CEO, Gerry Matthews, a property developer who had bought its training ground in 2005 and later been invited to join the board. Dundalk finished second under new manager John Gill in 2006, securing a play-off tie against Waterford United. Despite winning the two-legged play-off, they were still denied a place in the 2007 Premier Division, with Galway United, who had finished third in that season's First Division, selected by the FAI's 2006 IAG Report to be promoted ahead of both Dundalk and Waterford. In 2008 they finally won promotion back to the Premier Division, pipping Shelbourne to the top spot on the final night of the season.
Controversially, Gill was let go, despite winning the First Division title. At first Dundalk consolidated their position back in the Premier Division, – qualifying for the 2010–11 Europa League and leading the League midway through the 2010 season. But with a revolving door of managers and players, results subsequently deteriorating, and with costs increasing, owner Gerry Matthews decided to end his investment and exit the club. The subsequent financial crisis during a disastrous 2012 season threatened to put Dundalk out of business altogether. Matthews put the club up for sale and, with the assistance of a Supporters Trust, it was taken over by local businessmen Andy Connolly and Paul Brown (owners of the official sponsors, Fastfix). Dundalk subsequently managed to remain in the top-flight by defeating Waterford United in the promotion/relegation play-off.
Stephen Kenny's golden era (2013–2018)
With the takeover complete and the club saved, the new owners turned to Stephen Kenny – out of work since being sacked by Shamrock Rovers – to become the new manager. With a blank canvas and limited funds, Kenny set about rebuilding the squad – with only four of the 32 players used in 2012 being retained. When the 2013 season started neither supporters nor pundits were sure what to expect, and Dundalk failed to win any of their first five home matches. But when his methods took hold, his team clicked into gear and they rose up the table to the most unlikely of title challenges, eventually finishing as runners-up – a defeat to eventual champions St. Patrick's Athletic ultimately costing them the title.
Kenny kept the nucleus of the side together and made some more shrewd additions for the following season, then went on to guide the club to its first League title since 1995. Dundalk also won that season's League Cup, their first League and League Cup Double. The 2015 season saw them cement their dominance of domestic football, cruising to the club's third League and FAI Cup Double, only three years after the financial crisis that had threatened its existence. They completed a Three-in-a-Row League title, with two games to spare, in 2016, and made history the same season by being the first Irish side to gain a point, and then to win a match, in the Group Stages of European competition.
After the exertions of the Europa League run and the departure of some key players, Dundalk were runners-up in League and Cup in 2017, yet still won the League Cup. But the team's European exploits had attracted interest from abroad, and a consortium of American investors, backed by sports-investors Peak6, completed a takeover of the club in January 2018.. Kenny's side reasserted itself as 'Ireland's Number One' in 2018, winning another League and Cup Double – the second under Kenny and fourth in the club's history – breaking points-total and goals scored-total records in the process. To some shock but no surprise, Kenny resigned in November 2018 to become the Republic of Ireland U21 manager.
Stephen Kenny's personal Roll of Honour at the club from 2013 to 2018: four League titles, two FAI Cups, two League of Ireland Cups and one Leinster Senior Cup.
As you were (2019–)
In 2019 Dundalk were entering the club's 100th season of unbroken participation in League football – having joined the Dundalk & District League in 1919. Hoping to achieve both stability and continuity, and with virtually the whole first-team squad signed to longer-term contracts, Dundalk replaced Kenny with Vinny Perth (his longtime Assistant Manager at Dundalk) as Head Coach, with John Gill returning as First Team Coach. The new management team got off to a winning start when Dundalk won the President's Cup pre-season curtain raiser ahead of the 2019 season, then won their first trophy by defeating Derry City on penalties in the League Cup final. Despite falling 13-points behind early leaders Shamrock Rovers in April, which saw Rovers being called "title-winners in waiting" with 27 matches remaining, Dundalk overhauled the deficit within weeks.
Dundalk F.C. in European football
Dundalk first entered European competition as League Champions in the 1963–64 European Cup, and became the first Irish side to win an away match in Europe the same season. In the 2016–17 Europa League they became the first team from Ireland to win points in the Group Stages of European competition. They have played against a number of famous names in European football, such as Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Celtic, FC Porto, PSV Eindhoven, Ajax, Red Star Belgrade, Hajduk Split, Legia Warsaw and Zenit St Petersburg. The club played its 70th European match in the 2019–20 Champions League, and is ranked 128th on 8.500 points alongside Brøndby IF in the UEFA Club Coefficients for 2019–20, making it the highest-ranked Irish club in European football.
- Overall European record
As of 13 August 2019
|European Cup / UEFA Champions League||32||4||12||16||24||57|
|UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League||28||7||4||17||21||52|
|European Cup Winners' Cup / UEFA Cup Winners' Cup||8||2||1||5||7||14|
|Inter-Cities Fairs Cup||6||1||1||4||4||25|
Colours and crest
Dundalk's colours have been white shirts with black shorts, and black or white socks, since 1940. Black trims were introduced in the 1960s. The club's original colours, when competing as Dundalk G.N.R., were black and amber-striped shirts with white shorts. In advance of dropping the "G.N.R." moniker, the club adopted a strip of white shirts with a blue crest representing the Coat of Arms of Dundalk, and navy-blue shorts. The new colours got their first run out in a match against Shamrock Rovers in January 1928. White was chosen as, when the clubs of the town first amalgamated as 'Dundalk Association Football Club' in 1904, they had also adopted white shirts. These colours were worn until 1939, but came to be seen as unlucky due to the number of cup final losses racked up while wearing them.
Hoping a change of colours would bring more luck, the team introduced a sky blue and maroon quartered shirt, with white shorts and maroon socks, in 1939–40. After that experiment, the club returned to white shirts for the 1940–41 season, this time paired with black shorts and black socks. Possibly by coincidence, the amalgamated Dundalk A.F.C. – who became known as "Dundalk Rovers" – adopted black shorts to go with their white shirts in 1906, wearing the combination for the first time in an Irish Junior Cup tie with Dundalk G.N.R. The 'Home' colours have remained essentially unchanged, although the club introduced an all-white kit for the first time in the 1965–66 season, and also played in all-white in 1973–74 and 2003. All-white kits are still worn occasionally when required to avoid kit clashes.
- Away colours
For most of the club's existence away colours were not required. When change colours were needed red shirts were used, and for the Cup Winners Cup ties away to Hajduk Split in 1977, and Tottenham Hotspur in 1981, all-red kits were worn. An all-red kit was also used in the 1990–91 League season. When regular away kits were introduced in 2000, the colours were typically variants on red or black, with white trim. Starting in 2012 other colour combinations have been used – for example yellow with blue sleeves, shorts and trim as a nod to new official sponsor Fyffes from 2012 to 2014; and black and gold in homage to the club's G.N.R. roots from 2016 to 2017.
Red is no longer used as the base away colour, as a number of other League clubs use red and white combinations for home colours. Previously, ad hoc third colours were only worn when both home and away kits clashed with those opponent's colours. However, in 2019, Dundalk introduced a formal third strip for the first time – an all-lilac strip with white and black trim designed by CX+ Sport, where the logo of the official sponsor Fyffes has been replaced by that of Temple Street Children's University Hospital, as part of a fundraising partnership between the club and the charity.
- Kit suppliers
The kit supplier from 2016 to 2019 was CX+ Sport (a Horseware Ireland company). Previous long-term kit suppliers have been O’Neills (1976–1984; 1990–2004) and Umbro (2007–2015). A Dundalk company, Eros Sportswear, supplied kits between 1985 and 1988, while Union Sport (1988–89), Erreà (2005) and Diadora (2006) have each been suppliers for one season.
The Coat of Arms of Dundalk (“three martlets proper on a blue field”), adopted for the crest in 1928, appears as the “Corporation Arms” in a town plan of Dundalk dating to 1675, and is a simplification of the Seal of the New Town of Dundalk, which itself dates to the 14th Century. The crest disappeared from the playing shirts by 1930 for unrecorded reasons, but is assumed by club historian Jim Murphy to have been a cost saving measure. A modified crest of three martlets on a white shield with the club name was reintroduced to the shirt for the 1952 FAI Cup final. Following minor design changes over the years the white shield became a red shield with white martlets in 1997, as a nod to the town seal but in reversed tinctures. In 2015 this crest was modified to incorporate a gold star, to commemorate the club's tenth League of Ireland title.
Between 1903 and 1936 Dundalk mostly played at the Athletic Grounds in the centre of the town, paying a ground fee per game. However the Athletic Grounds were a municipal facility, also used for Gaelic games and athletics. Matches were usually played on Sundays, enabling a large Northern Irish contingent of spectators, inconvenienced by Sunday Observance laws, to attend games. Therefore, if matches had to be moved to Saturdays, the club suffered financially from lower gates. On weekends when the Athletic Grounds were unavailable, matches would usually move to the Carroll's Recreation Ground. The club secured its own ground on the Long Avenue in the town in the summer of 1921, however 12 months later the pavilion it had built was burned down at the height of the Irish Civil War (during which arson was rampant), and the club returned to the Athletic Grounds.
In 1936 the club moved permanently to "Casey's Field" on the Carrick Road on a long-term land lease, naming the new ground "Oriel Park". Almost 10 years to the day after Dundalk G.N.R. played their first League of Ireland match away to Fordsons, the same club (as Cork F.C.) were the first visitors to the new ground, with the home team winning 2–1. Oriel Park's attendance record is an estimated 17,000, set in 1979 for Dundalk's European Cup second round tie against Celtic. On occasions when Oriel has been unavailable due to works on the ground, matches have been moved to United Park in Drogheda or Gortakeegan in Monaghan. The ground has had an artificial playing surface since 2005.
Dundalk played their first ever home European match against F.C. Zurich in the 1963–64 European Cup in Dalymount Park in Dublin, as Oriel Park did not have floodlights. Floodlighting was installed in Oriel in 1967 to allow matches to come to the town – the first being the visit of Vasas SC of Hungary in the 1967–68 European Cup. They had to move their 1995–96 UEFA Cup tie against Malmö to United Park in Drogheda, due to the Oriel Park pitch being relaid that summer, and the 2002–03 UEFA Cup tie against Varteks to Tolka Park in Dublin, due to Oriel not meeting UEFA's upgraded standards for football stadiums at that time.
Oriel Park has since been upgraded to a Category 2 Stadium, able to accommodate 3,100 seated spectators for European matches. European matches requiring a ground to have Category 3 status have been played in Tallaght Stadium, owned by South Dublin County Council. Their Champions League Play-off round home leg against Legia Warsaw in 2016 required a stadium meeting Category 4 status, and was played in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Dundalk F.C.'s official Supporters Club was first formed as the "Dundalk Football Supporters’ League" in 1937–38. The Supporters Club has, over many decades, raised vital funds in support of the football team. Dundalk fans have nicknamed the club "The Lilywhites" because of the white shirts worn by the team. Fans also refer to "The Town", and use the hashtag #CmonTheTown on social media. Previously the team were nicknamed "The Northerners" as a carryover from the club's original "G.N.R." (Great Northern Railway) moniker. Other nicknames were "The Railwaymen", and later "The Bordermen" (due to the town's location close to the border with Northern Ireland).
During the 1980s and early 1990s the club's hardcore support congregated in Oriel Park's 'Shed', calling themselves the Mujahideen. A new generation of fans – who followed the club out of the First Division, through the ownership crisis of 2012, and into the club's successful 2014–2018 period – style themselves the "Shedside Army". The Shedside Army are responsible for Oriel Park's tifo displays. One such display – the flying of Palestinian flags in Oriel Park during a Europa League tie – resulted in a UEFA fine for the club of €18,000.
Dundalk supporters have two mottoes: "We've Seen Things They'll Never See" owing to the roller-coaster of highs and lows the club has experienced; and "Dundalk Will Never Die But You Will". – a riff on a Mogwai album title. The club anthem has become Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and the Wailers (both for the obvious connotation with the club's crest, and the sentiments expressed in the lyrics).
Support base and attendances
Dundalk Football Club's support base extends beyond the town of Dundalk itself in a radius of approx 30 km. It takes in the Dundalk Municipal District in north Louth, which comprises the towns of Dundalk, Carlingford and Blackrock; the Ardee Municipal District in mid-Louth, which comprises the towns of Ardee and Dunleer; the east Monaghan district of Castleblaney-Carrickmacross; and the south Armagh part of the Newry and Mourne district. The total population of this area is just over 100,000. Dundalk's average Friday night home League attendances have been consistent at approx 3,000 in the 2015–2019 period, with attendances at 'bigger' matches of approx 4,000.
The Louth Derby is contested between Dundalk and Drogheda United, who entered the League in 1963. The clubs played an annual friendly from 1966 to 1984 – the Donegan Cup, presented by former Louth TD Paddy Donegan. Apart from one attempt to revive the contest in 1990, it was discontinued as the two clubs could not find suitable dates for it during the season after the split of the League of Ireland into two divisions. The friendly was reintroduced as a pre-season match in 1997 with a new trophy – the Jim Malone Cup, in honour of three-time Chairman of Dundalk F.C., the late Jim Malone.
While there is a sibling rivalry between the two towns, League derbies are not usually fractious due to the clubs rarely competing for top honours simultaneously. Many of Dundalk's most successful periods have corresponded with Drogheda being at the lower end of the League or in the First Division, while Drogheda's main period of success (between 2004 and 2008) was achieved while Dundalk were in the lower tier. Nonetheless FAI Cup ties between the sides – there have been seven in all – have often been tempestuous affairs in front of large crowds, with three going to replays.
In addition to the Louth Derby, Dundalk fans would see Shamrock Rovers as the club’s biggest rivals. Rovers hold the record for the most League titles and the record for the most FAI Cups, with Dundalk next in the honours list for both competitions.
First-Team Squad (2019)
Total League appearances for club (including substitute appearances). Years do not include breaks in service. Correct to League match 6 September 2019
|Squad No.||Name||Date of Birth||Position||Debut season||League appearances||Goals|
|1||Gary Rogers||25 September 1981||GK||2015||153||0|
|2||Seán Gannon||11 July 1991||DF||2014||169||7|
|3||Brian Gartland||4 November 1986||DF||2013||167||29|
|4||Seán Hoare||15 March 1994||DF||2017||69||5|
|5||Chris Shields||27 December 1990||MF||2012||211||6|
|6||Jordan Flores||4 October 1995||MF||2019||15||1|
|7||Michael Duffy||28 July 1994||MF||2017||97||31|
|8||John Mountney||22 February 1993||MF||2012||188||20|
|9||Patrick Hoban||28 July 1991||FW||2013||125||76|
|10||Jamie McGrath||30 September 1996||MF||2017||79||10|
|11||Patrick McEleney||26 September 1992||MF||2016||82||16|
|12||Georgie Kelly||12 November 1996||FW||2018||28||7|
|14||Dane Massey||17 April 1988||DF||2013||199||17|
|15||Stephen Folan||14 January 1992||DF||2018||9||1|
|16||Seán Murray||11 October 1993||MF||2019||19||3|
|17||Cameron Dummigan||2 June 1996||DF||2019||12||1|
|18||Robbie Benson||7 May 1992||MF||2016||90||20|
|20||Aaron McCarey||14 January 1992||GK||2019||0||0|
|21||Daniel Cleary||9 March 1996||DF||2018||45||5|
|27||Daniel Kelly||21 May 1996||MF||2019||29||6|
|28||Lido Lotefa||18 April 2000||FW||2019||1||0|
|29||Dylan Hand||15 March 1999||DF||2019||1||0|
|30||Ross Treacy||26 September 1998||GK||2018||0||0|
|33||Dean Jarvis||1 June 1992||DF||2018||37||1|
|44||Andy Boyle||7 March 1991||DF||2013||133||8|
A sports scholarships run by Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) in partnership with the club “is aimed at those candidates who wish to pursue a full-time third level education whilst simultaneously pursuing a professional soccer playing career with League of Ireland Champions Dundalk FC”.
|Head Coach||Vinny Perth|
|Assistant Manager||Ruaidhrí Higgins|
|First Team Coach||John Gill|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Steve Williams|
|Strength & Conditioning||Graham Norton|
|Kit Manager||Noel Walsh|
|Physiotherapists||Danny Miller, David Murphy|
|Doctor||Dr. David Connolly|
|Videographer||Harry Taaffe, Shane Taaffe|
|Photography||Sportsfile (Ray McManus), Ciarán Culligan & David Caldwell|
|Youth Development Officer||Martin Connolly|
|U19's Manager||Mick Neville|
|U19's Coach||Brian Donnelly|
|U17's Manager||Liam Burns|
|U17's Coach||Thomas McShane|
|U15's Manager||Tiarnan Mulvenna|
|U15's Coach||Michael Cooney|
|Des Casey||Honorary Club President|
|Michael Hughes||Vice Chairman|
|Fred Spencer||board member|
|David Samhat||board member|
|Mark Devlin||Chief Executive Officer|
|Martin Connolly||General Manager|
|Colm Murphy||Club Secretary|
|Elaine Duffy||Finance Officer|
|Ailish Kelly||Office Manager|
|Des Donleavy||FAI Liaison|
|Paul Brown, Andy Connolly, Padraig McGowan||Club Ambassadors|
|Simon Blackmore||Licensing Officer|
|Liam Burns||Community Officer|
|Darren Crawley||Media Officer|
|David Farrelly, Paul Dunne, Colm Murphy & Ruth Hardy||DFC Magazine Editors|
|Anthony Bravender||Marketing & Media|
|Regina O'Hare||Event Controller|
|Kevin Carthy||Bar Manager|
|Michael Duffy||Stadium Announcer|
Ownership and finances
Dundalk Football Club is currently owned by a private company trading as "Dundalk Town FC Limited". The trading company has been owned by a consortium of U.S.-based investors backed by Peak6 Investments LLC following a buyout in January 2018. These investors make up the club's board of directors (see Club officials section).
As the association football club of the employees of the Great Northern Railway, Dundalk was 'owned' by the company and run by a management committee elected by the members of the club. The club was converted to a membership-based limited company – "Dundalk Association Football Club Limited" – on 25 January 1932, effectively coming under the ownership of the club's supporters, who elected a management committee every two years. This ownership structure survived until the end of 1965, but by that stage Oriel Park was in need of investment, and the ownership model, which saw the club break even on an annual basis at best, could not provide the finance required. As a result, the company was voluntarily liquidated and the club taken over by a Public Limited Company – "Dundalk Football Club Limited" – in January 1966.
The financial crisis that hit in late 1994, which saw the club become effectively insolvent, forced the liquidation of the 1966 company, and the club was taken over by "Dundalk AFC Interim Limited", made up of former and current directors under chairman Enda McGuill. But the cash-flow problems that had faced the club through most of the 1990s remained, and crisis struck again in 1998. It was eventually taken over by the Dundalk F.C. Co-Operative in 2000, returning it to a supporter-owned, membership-based model. But the Co-Op was unable to make the sort of investment in either the team or Oriel Park required to bring the club back to the Premier Division, and was left with little option but to sell the club's training ground, Hiney Park, in order to service debts and pay for work at Oriel Park.
The man who purchased Hiney Park, Developer Gerry Matthews, was subsequently invited to join the board as CEO in 2006. He then took the club back into private ownership as "Dundalk FC Limited" when it was accepted that the Co-Op could not continue to support it. Under the ownership of Matthews, Dundalk were returned to a somewhat solid footing, however his decision to end his financial support in 2012 lead to another crisis. With the assistance of the Dundalk FC Supporters Trust, the club was rescued by the owners of its official sponsors, Fastfix — Paul Brown and Andy Connolly. They formed a new company "Dundalk Town FC Limited" who completed a takeover of the club in time for the 2013 season. Brown and Connolly then sold their interest in the club to the current owners in 2018.
Commercial partners and income streams
The current team shirt's chest logo is that of official sponsors Fyffes. The shirt's sleeve sponsor is Renault Blackstone Motors and the back of the shirt is sponsored by Total Produce, Dundalk Credit Union and Statsports. With the introduction of shirt sponsorship in 1980, Dundalk's first shirt sponsor became National Aluminium, whose brand remained on the team shirts until 1984. From 1987 until 2002 the club's official sponsor was Harp Lager (the Great Northern Brewery being only 800 metres from Oriel Park). Subsequently, the club had a number of official sponsors, before the present partnership with Fyffes, which commenced in 2012. The club's current commercial partners are:
- Fyffes (Official Sponsor)
- Dundalk Credit Union (Community Partner)
- Total Produce
- Renault (Blackstone Motors)
- DKIT Sport
- Horseware Ireland
- Fastfix Limited
- Farrelly Dawe Whyte Limited
Dundalk has a number of other sponsorship arrangements, such as sponsorship of individual players and sponsorship of individual home matches. The club's Lotto is managed in partnership with Clubforce. The club has a merchandise shop at Oriel Park, an online store on the official website and opens a second merchandise shop annually in one of Dundalk's shopping centres for the Christmas shopping season. In addition to sponsorship, Oriel Park is made available by the club for junior and schools football, and is also available for rent to private groups and clubs in other sporting codes. The ground's public bar, 'The Lilywhite Lounge', is available for social events, as is the members' bar – the Enda McGuill Suite.
- Player transfers
Players in the League of Ireland are typically signed on single season contracts, meaning they become free agents at the end of each season. Contracts of two-year duration are less typical, and again such players are not usually transferred for a fee, with interested clubs waiting until the six-month pre-contract window to approach players directly; while players and clubs very rarely sign deals of a longer duration. As a result the transfer-fee inflation seen throughout European club football has not been a feature of the game in Ireland, and Dundalk have not benefited financially from player transfers since the Bosman ruling came into effect. Indeed, the PFAI Players' Player of the Year for 2015 (Richie Towell), and 2016 (Daryl Horgan), both left for EFL Championship clubs at the end of their respective award-winning seasons on free transfers, due to contract expiry.
Dundalk's transfer fees both paid and received have generally remained undisclosed. The record transfer fee received (when all clauses were eventually triggered and paid) is approx £80,000 (equivalent to €200,000 in 2019) for Steve Staunton, who was signed by Liverpool in August 1986 for an initial fee of £20,000. Dundalk subsequently received a further estimated £70,000 (equivalent to €150,000 in 2019) when Staunton was transferred by Liverpool to Aston Villa in 1991. The club's highest transfer fee received from another League of Ireland club was £25,000 from Shelbourne in 2000 for goalkeeper Steve Williams. This equates to approx €43,000 in 2019.
Ireland's State-owned public service broadcaster, RTÉ, has broadcast rights for League of Ireland and FAI Cup matches as part of a package from the FAI that includes international matches. However, there is little or no income derived from these rights for League of Ireland clubs. Indeed, the network refused to pay the fee asked to broadcast Dundalk's Champions League tie home-leg against BATE Borisov in 2016 – a historic night for both the club and the League – only a few months after Dundalk were named RTÉ’s ‘Team of the Year’ for 2015. RTÉ had also previously offered the FAI €4 million to avoid having to televise any League of Ireland matches on its channels at all, and has bounced its highlights show around the TV schedule. Concerns regarding RTÉ’s attitude to the Irish club scene go back as far as 1965, when former Dundalk Secretary Sam Prole was critical in an FAI Council meeting of the state-broadcaster's lack of support for domestic football.
Commercial broadcaster Eir Sport televises a number of live League and European matches during the season, though, again, clubs receive little or no financial dividend, as the matches are considered a marketing opportunity for the League, rather than a commercial interest for the network. Eir Sport also broadcast the majority of League of Ireland clubs' European matches.
- Radio and online
Midway through the 2019 season, Dundalk announced a pilot project to stream League matches for viewers outside the Republic of Ireland on either a single match or four match subscription basis. Due to broadcasting rights restrictions this service is not available to stream in the Republic of Ireland.
Highlights of all matches are made available by the club on its YouTube channel shortly after full-time, while live commentary of matches is broadcast on Dundalk FM (a community radio station) and LMFM. The radio broadcasts do not have licensing restrictions and can be accessed online in Ireland and globally from the stations' websites.
In 2015 the FAI agreed a deal with TrackChamp to stream all League of Ireland games outside Ireland. Games are streamed via a single camera in relatively low resolution and without commentary. This service was due to be improved in time for the 2019 season.
Dundalk F.C. produce a matchday programme for all home matches – the "DFC Magazine". This programme has been voted 'Programme of the Year' for nine of the past 10 years (as of 2019) by the Irish Football Programme Club. 
In 2017 the Louth County Museum in Dundalk celebrated the achievements of the club with a new exhibition entitled "One Team, One Dream", which ran for over a year. In 2018 a short documentary entitled "Chasing Doubles" was published on YouTube by Dundalk Sport and Lightstorm Media. The piece was nominated by the FAI for a 'Best Digital Initiative Award', as part of the association's 'Communications Awards' in July 2019.
In addition the following books have been produced about the club:
- 2003: The History of Dundalk F.C. – The First 100 Years, by Jim Murphy
- 2013: C'mon The Town! – A Dundalk FC Miscellany, by Jim Murphy
- 2014: Dundalk FC – CHAMP10S, by Gavin McLaughlin
- 2015: Dundalk FC – The Double, by Gavin McLaughlin
- 2016: Dundalk FC – Making History, by Gavin McLaughlin
- 2018: Dundalk FC – Taking Back the Throne, by Gavin McLaughlin
The record for the most appearances in all competitions is currently held by Tommy McConville who appeared in 580 matches for the club between 1964 and 1986. Joey Donnelly is the club's top goalscorer with 142 goals in all competitions. Four other players – Eddie Carroll, Joe Martin, Paddy Turner and Jimmy Hasty – have also scored 100 goals or more. Martin Lawlor has won the most League titles at the club (5).
Bob Egan became the first Dundalk player to win an international cap on 20 April 1929 when he represented Ireland in a 4–0 defeat of Belgium. The player who has won the most caps while at Dundalk is Billy O'Neill, who won 11 caps for Ireland during his spell with the club – his international career being cut short at the age of 23 by the outbreak of World War 2. Mick Fairclough was the most recently capped player, earning two caps in May 1982.
Dundalk's largest domestic victories have been 9–0 wins over Jacobs in 1932 and Shelbourne in 1980. The biggest victory in a European match was a 4–0 home win against Fram Reykjavík in 1981. The largest home attendance is 30,417 v Legia Warsaw in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin for the Champions League play-off round in 2016.
|League of Ireland/Premier Division||1932–33, 1962–63, 1966–67, 1975–76, 1978–79,
1981–82, 1987–88, 1990–91, 1994–95, 2014,
2015, 2016, 2018
|1930–31, 1936–37, 1942–43, 1947–48, 1963–64,|
1967–68, 1979–80, 1980–81, 1986–87, 1988–89,
|FAI Cup||1941–42, 1948–49, 1951–52, 1957–58, 1976–77,
1978–79, 1980–81, 1987–88, 2001–02, 2015,
|1930–31, 1934–35, 1937–38, 1986–87, 1992–93,|
|League Cup||1977–78, 1980–81, 1986–87, 1989–90, 2014,
|1982–83, 1985–86, 1988–89, 1994–95|
|Leinster Senior Cup||1950–51, 1960–61, 1970–71, 1973–74, 1976–77,
|1928–29, 1934–35, 1935–36, 1936–37, 1938–39,|
1958–59, 1961–62, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1981–82,
1993–94, 1994–95, 2017
|League of Ireland First Division||2000–01, 2008||2006|
|President's Cup||2015, 2019||2016, 2017, 2018|
|League of Ireland Shield||1966–67, 1971–72||1932–33, 1941–42, 1946–47, 1963–64, 1967–68,|
|Dublin and Belfast Intercity Cup||1941–42||1948–49|
|Setanta Sports Cup||2011, 2014|
|Dublin City Cup||1937–38, 1942–43, 1948–49, 1967–68, 1968–69||1935–36, 1936–37, 1940–41, 1947–48, 1965–66,|
1966–67, 1970–71, 1983–84
|Top Four Cup||1963–64, 1966–67|
|LFA President's Cup||1930–31, 1951–52, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1979–80,
1980–81, 1981–82, 1988–89, 1989–90
|1932–33, 1943–44, 1949–50, 1952–53, 1958–59,|
1968–69, 1972–73, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1982–83,
1986–87, 1987–88, 1995–96, 2002–03,
|Pre-League of Ireland era (1919–26)|
|Leinster Senior League||1923–24|
|Leinster Junior Cup||1919–20|
|Dundalk & District League||1919–20, 1920–21||1921–22|
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- Murphy, Jim (2003). The History of Dundalk F.C.: The First 100 Years. Dundalgan Press. ASIN B0042SO3R2.
- Murphy, Jim (2013). C'mon The Town! A Dundalk F.C. Miscellany. Self published.
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- History of Dundalk F.C.
- Dundalk F.C. in European football
- List of Dundalk F.C. records and statistics
- Oriel Park