In what would be a huge loss for both Dundalk and the League of Ireland as a whole, Patrick McEleney looks set to complete a move to England in the coming days.
The Lilywhites had been hoping to persuade McEleney to stay at Oriel Park in 2018 and spearhead their efforts to regain the Premier Division title from Cork City, but the Irish Independent have reported on Wednesday morning that a move to League One side Oldham Athletic is in the offing for the 25-year-old.
Having scored a personal best of ten league goals in 2017 (most of them goal of the season contenders), McEleney’s stock rose dramatically as he found a level of consistency that had arguably been lacking in recent years. As a result, the former Derry City playmaker has attracted attention not just from Oldham, but from fellow League One side Blackburn Rovers and there was even reported interest from the MLS.
However, it does seem that the Latics have won the race for his signature, and with Jack Byrne’s loan spell coming to an end, McEleney will be confident of filling the void left by his compatriot’s departure.
With star striker David McMillan’s move to St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership now confirmed and Nicals Vemmelund adamant that he won’t be returning to the club, Dundalk’s spine will look markedly different in 2018. On the plus side, however, John Mountney and Robbie Benson have recently committed themselves to the club, and with the signings of Ronan Murray, Patrick Hoban, Dean Jarvis and Stephen Folan, Kenny will be confident of winning back the league title next year.
This will be McEleney’s second attempt at cracking English football. The Derry native joined Sunderland on a two-and-a-half year deal in 2008, but cut his stay short and returned to Derry in late 2009 due to homesickness.