Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins says he was not surprised at Dundalk counterpart Vinny Perth's critical remarks about him but added that the club had no choice but to announce the re-signing of Patrick McEleney on Thursday.
Derry confirmed that they were bringing Dundalk midfielder McEleney back to the club at the end of the season within minutes of the Lilywhites' Europa Conference League victory over Newtown AFC - a turn of events that Perth branded as "disgraceful".
Perth, who worked with Higgins at Dundalk during his first spell in charge and previously while assistant to Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, claimed that the announcement signified an "utter lack of respect" for the Louth club.
Referencing Higgins, the Dundalk boss added that "particularly the manager would have known better. He has done very well out of this football club for a long time".
Speaking after the Candystripes' loss to St Patrick's Athletic on Friday night, Higgins said he was not surprised at the remark Perth made about him.
"It didn't surprise me, no," he said, also emphasising that he retains full respect for Dundalk after spells there as both a player and a coach.
"I had an amazing time at Dundalk, a lot of good friends, a lot of brilliant memories and the last thing I want is to get into a dispute with Dundalk's manager because I've too much respect for the club and I wouldn't do that.
"Although Dundalk are in a difficult situation, we were in a difficult situation because the story was breaking anyway."
The Derry City manager, who replaced Declan Devine in April, explained that the club had to announce McEleney's signing when they did as the story would shortly be published by local media.
"This is the way it is, so Wednesday speculation was rife and the whole country was talking about him coming to Derry," he said.
"Wednesday, we could have put (the announcement) out but we didn't because Dundalk were playing in Europe on Thursday and then one of our local journalists was going to run with a story on Friday morning anyway. He got wind of it, everyone knew it was happening.
"So the only window for the club to announce it - and the club should always announce things like that - was after the game. There's no great time to announce them sort of things but the club I'm sure would rather put it out than a local journalist because they should be in control of the situation."
Higgins also welcomed McEleney's impending arrival to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium when the season ends and added that there were no question marks about his commitment to the Dundalk cause until then.
"Delighted, obviously Patrick's at a point in his life (where) his kids and his partner are moving back to Derry and he's keen to join the club and his commitment to Dundalk can't be questioned at all," he added.
"If you look at his performance last night, if you look at his performance against us the previous week, I thought he was Dundalk's best player over the two games and he's a real professional.
"But listen, we're delighted that in future seasons he's going to be back at the Brandywell."
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