Brian Barry-Murphy has spoken in-depth about the club’s retained/released list which was announced Wednesday.
Read what he has to say below and click HERE to see the list in full.
PLAYERS WHO ARE LEAVING THE CLUB
"This part of the season is significant, in that there is obviously some very difficult conversations to be had, but it almost brings a close to what has gone on previously. A lot of stuff had gone before the end of the season in terms of planning and preparation for next season anyway, but from this moment onwards there is a real emphasis on what lies ahead and a lot of excitement as to where we can go as a group.
"Because we become so invested in the players – and I would class all of our lads as being friends, we’ve become very close – the element of these players not being with us can be very difficult initially and I mean that for all of the players. Jimmy Ryan, Paul McShane and Ryan McLaughlin are the senior figures within the group, but below that the likes of Harrison Hopper, Lewis Bradley and Keaton Mulvey are equally as important. We can’t just class one individual above another based on how much they have played for our club or how much they have contributed. Within the dressing room, all of those guys have to be equally valued and trying to help those players in the next stage of their careers is even more important to someone like Harrison, Lewis or Keaton, who we’ve already made significant efforts in trying to help them with that next step.
"Conor Shaughnessy informed the club over the weekend that he plans to move on next season. In the short period he’d been with us he’s been very committed to what we were trying to achieve towards the end of the season. However, he’s has decided his future lies elsewhere next season and we respect that, wish him the very best wherever he ends up, and thank him for his efforts whilst he’s been with us."
PLAYERS WHO THE CLUB HAVE ENGAGED IN NEGOTIATIONS
"At this stage of the season, a lot of clubs will be clearing the decks and moving on as many players as possible. From my point of view, this almost suggests that you’ve had the wrong players in your squad for a period of time. With our squad, we all saw the potential and the ability within the squad in the last ten games when everybody was fit, and as such our focus is on trying to maintain that continuity whilst progressing the squad naturally and making it better, but understanding that we want to keep as many of our valued players as possible.
"Within that, there is obviously individuals like Kwadwo Baah who has secured his future at a top club elsewhere and we want to be a club that shows players have a clear path to the top, so it means a lot to us that he’s gone there.
"Eoghan O’Connell, Jimmy Keohane and Matthew Lund are obviously players who have attracted a lot of attention over the season. Our focus at the moment is to do everything possible to try and convince them to stay with us, whilst understanding that those guys will have to factor in a lot things before making that decision. We will respect whatever decision they come to because we value them immensely as people.
"We’re intent on showing the squad and our supporters that we have a clear ambition of what we want to do next season and we’ll be transmitting that message to all of our players who we want to retain going forward, and hopefully that will have an influence on what they decide to do next season.
"To the outside world, there will always be natural leaders and players who have a perceived influence on the team and club, but there are also people who go under the radar in terms of how much influence they have on the squad. Jay Lynch, Stephen Dooley and Matty Done definitely fall into that category. They have a huge role to play in terms of how they’ve understood what the club is about, helped our younger players but also, in the end, produced their best possible performances for the club. I think, in terms of where we want to take the squad, it’s going to end up being a very young squad, and we need those senior players of special qualities to guide those players through, and those guys are a key part of that. I can’t emphasise enough how much those guys are valued by fellow members of the squad.
"With Jim McNulty, the impact he has on the squad is obvious on a gameday and in training. The way he is able to nurture the younger members of the squad, to make sure they are comfortable within the environment, is really special. It is something we’ve done as a club previously. His value to the club and to me as a manger has never been greater and I sincerely hope he sees his future with us."
JOE DUNNE & PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTS FOR SCHOLARS
"It was a very successful season for the Youth Team collectively, which was a great reward for the work they have put in. From a very early stages of this season, once I fed back to Tony Ellis and Chris Brown who I see as potential players for this club, our duty for the second-year scholars who we don’t think are going to feature at first-team level, is to provide them with the best support system to help them with the next stage of their careers, in exactly the same manner as we are doing with Harrison, Lewis and Keaton.
"Peter Thomas and Brad Kelly were the ones we identified as having the potential to feature at first team level. We’re very excited for them coming into our environment as soon as possible to progress and to really enhance the group. Their potential is very exciting.
"Joe Dunne has had a solid first season with us. He hasn’t featured loads in terms of first team activity but that can be normal for a first-year professional. Hopefully, we will see the benefit of that next season. We like our loan players to complement our existing players and Joe has been working closely with Haydon Roberts throughout the season, and we see a lot of comparisons between the two. We want to progress Joe as our own and develop him as one of our own.
"If you put those guys together with Aaron Morley, who has really established himself in league football, as well as Brad Wade and Ethan Brierley, it really shows our commitment to producing academy players and putting them into a first team environment is really strong, if not strong than ever. Once these players display that they’re good enough, it has been our unique selling point as a club that we actually ensure they get a chance to play in league football, more so than at other clubs."
TIMEFRAME ON CONTRACTS
"From both the players’ and the club’s point of view, because of the circumstances of the season, we haven’t been able to secure any of these guys on extended contracts during the season. Now that we’ve reached this point, there is a two-week window where the players can assess the offers made to them by our club, see what else is available to them, then make their intentions clear to us with regards to next season.
"That two-week period of grace, if you like, gives the players enough opportunity to see what’s available and gives us as a club a fair enough opportunity to see who is going to be with us next season finally. We’re already moving on to next season’s planning and seeing what the squad will look like as we start really thinking about pre-season."
"Our whole ethos as a club is to only get the players that we feel are the right fit for the club. By that we mean they have significant room for development, can become very valuable players for the club, and who are very good players that can excite the supporters going forward. What we’ve seen towards the end of last season and towards the start of the window, the effects of being in League Two compared to League One isn’t significant. The parent clubs view the bottom half of League One and the top half of League Two quite similarly. So, from a loan point of view, the only difference is that if a player has already been loaned to League One, it takes quite a bit of convincing for them to loan them back into League Two the following season, but we’ll be doing everything in our power to secure the players we want.
"Our focus in the last 12 months has been securing young players on permanent contracts because it gives us that significant resale value and means we can focus on developing players ourselves. As well as our own academy players, getting in people like Conor Grant who can become very valuable for the club. In that instance, we’re finding it is slightly different in that players will want to see what’s available to them higher up, so it is about convincing players what we can do for them in terms of what we can provide and show what is possible for them in the future."
EXISTING SQUAD MEMBERS
"Towards the end of the season, I mentioned that we have a clear vision of where we want to go, and by that I meant the talent we have within our ranks. Supporters may think that there isn’t a load of players, but within that there is quality that will attract attention from different clubs. The only way we can accept those players not being with us next season is if the terms are completely in line with what we see those players at and one that will allow us to build elsewhere.
"My main focus is on ensuring the players under contract are with us and that we add to that. We don’t want to be losing any of those players and the conversations with the board over the past ten days have been very positive. They are equally as motivated to retain the best quality within the squad and add to it. I’ve been privileged in the past couple of years that our recruitment has been top notch, and we’re looking to be as good, if not better, again. Callum Jones heads that up and does an amazing job and no matter what the circumstances, we’ve managed to attract a calibre of player that has been really exciting for me to work with and I hope exciting for the supporters. Our focus this summer is to add that profile of player and that makes other people want to be part of it."