McEleney’s drought ends While he scored in the 11-0 Cup win over Athlone Town last November, Patrick McEleney’s strike at The Showgrounds on Saturday night was his first league goal for Dundalk since scoring twice in the 5-0 win over Finn Harps at Oriel Park 583 days earlier on August 16th 2019. It was his second goal at The Showgrounds having also scored in the 4-0 win there in March 2017 and his 24th for Dundalk in total. His goal came 11 years to the day since he made his League of Ireland debut for Derry City away to Waterford Utd. A Liam Kearney goal on 12 minutes won it for the RSC men that night.
Parkes haunts Dundalk again Romeo Parkes’ equaliser on Saturday night was his second time scoring against Dundalk. The striker was also on target after just two minutes when Sligo beat Vinny Perth’s side 2-1 at The Showgrounds on April 12th 2019.
Boyle’s landmark It was league appearance number 150 in Dundalk colours on Saturday night for Andy Boyle. Alongside him Daniel Cleary started his 60th league game for the club while Sonni Nattestad started his first. He was one of four league debutants on the night alongside Alessio Abibi, Raivis Jurkovskis and Junior while Sam Stanton also came off the bench to make his debut in the second half.
Newcomers Sonni Nattestad became the first player from the Faroe Islands to play in the League of Ireland when he made his Dundalk debut on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Alessio Abibi became just the second Albanian to play on these shores after Marlon Marishta, who played a handful of times for Bray Wanderers last season. Raivis Jurkovskis also became the ninth Latvian to play in the league.
Shields returns to where it all began Chris Shields captained Dundalk on Saturday in what was league game number 325 of his career. It came at the ground where he made his first appearance for Bray Wanderers as a sub for Sligo native Alan Cawley on November 14th 2008. Mauro Almeida and Conor O’Grady goals won the game for Sligo that night.
Duffy is back Having not featured in pre-season due to injury, Michael Duffy came off the bench in the second half on Saturday to make his return. It was his 170th appearance in a Dundalk jersey but just his 11th off the bench.
When Dundalk return to pre-season training at the end of the month there will be a few familiar faces missing. While Lilywhite supporters have had several weeks to contemplate a future without the likes of Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Dane Massey, John Mountney and Sean Hoare, James Rogers looks back on the contribution of five players who collectively won an incredible 67 honours during their time at Oriel Park.
Gary Rogers Perhaps the biggest compliment that can be paid to Gary Rogers is that he made people very quickly forget about his predecessor Peter Cherrie, the hugely popular goalkeeper he who he was brought in to replace just weeks after the first league win of this era at the end of 2014. Rogers had his critics at times, which you’d expect given his position, but even in his few bad moments he had a remarkable resilience to always be able to bounce back – even overcoming a broken bone in his hand to regain his place in the side after briefly being dropped in 2016. As someone who witnessed Rogers in action perhaps more than most, there are so many moments when he made a big save at 0-0 or 1-0 before Dundalk went on to win 2-0 or 3-0. To those just looking at results, it regularly looked like a comfortable win for his side but it could have been so different but for his contribution. On a grander scale, Dundalk would not have been able to pull off that memorable victory over BATE Borisov in Tallaght in 2016 were it not for some top saves from Rogers in the first leg in Belarus in which Stephen Kenny’s side were fortunate to escape with just a 1-0 defeat. As well as equalling Alan O’Neill’s record of 23 clean sheets in a league season – also achieved with Dundalk in 1990/91 – Rogers made crucial saves in shoot-out victories away to Riga and Sheriff in 2019 and 2020 which not only earned the club millions in revenue but also arguably saved Vinny Perth’s job in Latvia and earned Filippo Giovagnoli his in Moldova.
Sean Gannon Had you told me Sean Gannon would go on to the career he had after his Dundalk debut in March 2014 I’d have laughed at you. A relative unknown when he was signed from St Patrick’s Athletic by Stephen Kenny, Gannon was given a truly torrid time by Gavin Brennan as Drogheda won 4-1 at United Park. He was taken out of the firing line after 80 minutes of that game and actually dropped for the following week’s victory at home to Limerick in which his replacement Mark Rossiter both scored and gave a man of the match display. A hamstring injury for Rossiter late on in that game gave Gannon an immediate route back into the side though and he never looked back, even scoring a memorable team goal to cap off a resounding 4-1 win for his side away to then champions St Patrick’s Athletic a few weeks later which really showed that Stephen Kenny’s side were ready to challenge for the title. He has been largely a fixture in the side since then and the fact Dundalk dropped 16 points in the eight league matches he missed in 2017 shows how important he became. He would chip in with some big goals over the years too, most notable the 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght in 2019 and in the EA Sports Cup final away to Derry City in the same year. He was also one of the side’s biggest attacking threats with his cross for Patrick McEleney’s winner in the 2018 FAI Cup final one fo the most memorable of his many assists. It will be tough seeing him in Rovers colours next season but it shouldn’t taint his achievements for Dundalk.
John Mountney Of all the departures from Oriel Park this winter, John Mountney’s probably tugs on the heart strings the most. Having been part of the squad which narrowly avoided relegation in the play-off in 2012 – a year when the club itself was perhaps fortunate to survive – his story, along with that of Chris Shields, was one of the best. The Mayo man had been there during the dark days but went on to play a big role in the best ones. While he might never have achieved the status of a regular, Mountney was frequently called upon for the big occasion and never really let the side down. Indeed, he was the side’s lucky general with Dundalk winning on each occasions in which he scored. Mountney would have been 10 seasons at Oriel Park this year but it’s understandable that he feels, at 27, that he needs a new challenge and to play more regularly. One of the biggest compliments you can give him is that he arrived at Oriel Park as a teenager and always carried himself with the utmost class and dignity when it would have been easy for someone of his age living away from home for the first time to let success go to their head. Dundalk will miss Mountney’s versatility going forward but hopefully as a town we haven’t seen the last of him. At the end of last year he got engaged to local girl Shannon Moran – a member of a well known family from Bay Estate – so he will still be a familiar sight in the area at least. A quiet lad overall, he’ll have some story to tell in years to come.
Dane Massey Often the most overlooked of Dundalk’s famous back four in which he regularly featured alongside Gannon, Gartland and Boyle, there was definitely no lack of appreciation for Dane Massey from Dundalk supporters. For much of his time at Oriel Park he was Denis Irwin-like – solid in defence, a threat in attack and ultra consistent. While rightly remembered for his defensive displays, Dane scored some big goals over the years for the club as well. His superb double in the 3-2 EA Sports Cup final win over Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park in September 2014 earned Stephen Kenny’s side the first trophy of this era while he also scored the first goals of both Vinny Perth and Filippo Giovagnoli’s reigns. A bit like Tommy McConville against Celtic in 1979, people in years from now will always wonder what might have happened had Massey’s effort – at a time in which Dundalk were 1-0 up – had gone in off the post rather than rebounded off it against Zenit St Petersburg in Tallaght in 2016. Of all the departures this off-season, the left back’s is perhaps the saddest. Having scored a cracker away to Cobh Ramblers in Giovagnoli’s first game in charge, he would suffer a hip injury in training in the days after that which required surgery that ended his season. It was cruel for all players who ended their time at the club this year that they didn’t get to sign off in front of fans who had adored them for so long but the fact Massey’s time at the club came to an end doing TV punditry was not what he deserved for his service at Oriel Park.
Sean Hoare While it’s fair to say that Sean Hoare is perhaps not held in the same sort of bracket of affection as the other four long-serving members of the squad which departed Oriel Park this winter, I’d imagine history will remember him more fondly. Many players can only dream of scoring a goal in an FAI Cup final but Hoare got to do it twice as Dundalk lifted the trophy in 2018 and 2020. While he perhaps isn’t as adored as the others having only joined in the days after the memorable 2016 season came to an end, Hoare made a superb contribution to title wins in 2018 and 2019 which shouldn’t be forgotten. His leap to score against Rovers when Dundalk clinched the title at Oriel Park in September 2019 summed up the sort of threat he offered at set pieces. He was a player with a fantastic attitude who was often selfless to his own detriment. An accomplished centre half, he was often asked to fill in at either right back or in central midfield. While he did many a fine job there, at times he was exposed as well from not playing in his best position. Another who has departed for Shamrock Rovers, his legacy at the club shouldn’t be forgotten just because of where he has ended up. It sums up how successful the last decade or so has been in the club’s history that another departure this week, Jordan Flores, won every trophy possible during his time here and yet will probably only be a footnote in the club’s history. Hoare made a big contribution to recent success and that shouldn’t be forgotten or overlooked.
Gary Rogers announced his retirement after more than 20 years this evening. For the night that’s in it I thought I’d share some stats on one of the League of Ireland’s all time greats.
Gary Rogers made 752 career appearances in over 20 years as a professional. This included 575 league appearances, second only to Al Finucane in the all-time list, who played 634 league matches. He also made 520 Premier Division appearances, second only to Peter Hutton with 537. Sixteen of Rogers’ appearances were expunged following Dublin City’s demise in 2006.
Gary’s honours list reads as: 5 Premier Division titles 1 First Division title 5 FAI Cups 3 League Cups 1 Unite the Union Champions Cup 1 Setanta Sports Cup 2 Leinster Senior Cups 1 Connacht Senior Cup
He holds the record appearances for a League of Ireland player in Europe with 54 games, 13 clear of Ollie Cahill and Ronan Finn in second.
Shay Given with 23 is the only Irish goalkeeper with more clean sheets in European football than Rogers, who ends his career with 14. This is 4 clear of Bonner and seven ahead of Mick Devine.
Gary Rogers has won three SWAI Goalkeeper of the Year awards (2012, 2015 and 2019) – a joint record with Mark McNulty (2014, 2016 and 2017) and Brian Murphy (2007, 2008, 2009).
Gary made his League of Ireland debut for St Francis in a 2-1 defeat away to Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Sunday October 22nd 2000. Carel van der Velden (49) and Steve Birks (53) got the goals for Sligo. Paul Irwin scored a penalty on the hour mark as a consolation for St Francis.
The heaviest defeat of Gary Rogers’ career came on his first visit to Oriel Park 20 years ago this week on December 14th 2000 when Dundalk beat St Francis 7-0 with goals from David Ward, Anto Reilly (2), Tommy Byrne, Donal Broughan, Martin Reilly and John Flanagan.
His first clean sheet in the League of Ireland came on January 28th 2001 in a 3-0 win over Cobh Ramblers for St Francis at John Hyland Park. Wayne Fitzell (2), Shane Doherty (35) and John Chandler (62) got the goals on the day. It would be his only clean sheet in 25 matches for St Francis.
In total Rogers would keep 291 clean sheets throughout his career. This included 114 in 225 matches for Dundalk FC. He also kept 54 for Drogheda Utd, 49 each for Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic, 20 for Galway Utd, four for Dublin City but none in a brief seven match tenure at Bray Wanderers in 2006.
Rogers would end his domestic career with an FAI Cup win over Shamrock Rovers. It was his 68th game in a competition he would win 5 times. The first man to score against him in the FAI Cup was Alan Reynolds for Waterford in 2000. Earlier this year Reynolds was his assistant manager briefly at Dundalk.
Rogers may not have ever played League of Ireland football were it not for a red card for his club St Ultan’s in a Leinster Club Championship in 2000. The Bohermeen/Martry club won their first Meath JFC in September 2000. Gary’s father Dessie was the first secretary of St Ultan’s when they were founded in 1991 and captain when the Meath juniors reached the All-Ireland final in 1987. Gary would score two of five late points as St Ultan’s came from 0-9 to 0-5 behind with seven minutes to go against Ballinabrackey in the semi-final to set up a final pairing with St Peter’s Dunboyne. He would also score a number of times in the final which his side won 1-11 to 0-6. That saw him elevated to the Meath senior panel from the juniors under the guidance of Sean Boylan but a red card in a Leinster Club Championship match meant he was dropped from the panel. A three month suspension saw him turn his focus to soccer. “I suppose a combination of going on loan to St Francis and actually getting games and then the sending off with my local club probably played its part in the role I took,” said Rogers, who had started out at Shelbourne in 1999 under his last goalkeeping coach Steve Williams.
Rogers would return to GAA in 2006 after Dublin City went bust, earning a couple of starts for Colm Coyle’s Meath in the National League and helping St Ultan’s to another Meath JFC title with a 1-10 to 1-6 win over Kilmainham. Coyle had been the St Ultan’s manager when they won the JFC title six years earlier with Rogers on board. He would score four points in the final
Gary’s uncle was legendary Dundalk player Liam Devine, a scorer of goals against Linfield and Hibernians of Malta in the club’s memorable European Cup run of 1978/79. Having being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 29, Devine passed away a year before Gary’s birth in September 1980. His death would have a big role in his nephew becoming a goalkeeper. The tragedy led to Liam’s son Lee spending more and more time in the Rogers household and it was him who decided his cousin should take up a role guarding goal. “We would always have been out playing on the pitch beside my house. He was five or six years older than me so I was the goalkeeper for his shooting practice,” said Rogers in March 2018. “That’s how I really got into it and I always really enjoyed it. I suppose he would have a big part to play in my interest in goalkeeping.I played all my Gaelic outfield and all my soccer in goals barring a few exceptions.”
Rogers’ earlierest footballing memory related to a goalkeeper was Packie Bonner saving Daniel Timofte’s penalty in the Italia 90 World Cup. Bonner would later present Rogers with his third SWAI Goalkeeper of the Year award for 2019 in January of this year. “Packie Bonner’s iconic penalty save against Romania is my first memory of football,” he said. “I remember watching it in Navan swimming pool. I was doing a swimming lesson and the penalties came on and we went in to watch it in the lifeguard’s hut. That penalty save still sticks with me and I was a massive fan then of Packie growing up.”
Rogers’ heroes other than Bonner were Bruce Grobbelaar, being a Liverpool fan, as well as the Italian duo of Gianluca Pagliuca and Gianluigi Buffon
Gary’s first clean sheet for Drogheda Utd came, like with St Francis, against Cobh Ramblers in a 1-0 win away at St Colman’s Park on August 11th 2001. Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien got the goal for the Boynesiders. They would win the First Division title that season with Gary an ever present in what was his first piece of League of Ireland silverware.
His Premier Division debut came in a 2-1 win over Derry City at United Park on 5th July 2002. Mark Dempsey and Shaun Gallagher scored the goals for Drogheda either side of a Liam Coyle penalty
Gary came off the bench just three times in his career. The first came on April 2nd 2004 when he replaced Tony O’Dowd at half-time in a 3-0 defeat away to Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
Rogers was also sent off three times in his career. The first came for St Pat’s in a 2-2 draw at home to UCD on August 7th 2011 for a foul on Darren Meenan. Pat’s had been 2-0 up at the time. He was also sent-off in an FAI Cup semi-final replay – a 3-1 defeat to Shels – on October 17th 2011 for bring down Kevin Dawson in the box. His third and final red card was in a 2-2 draw away Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght on April 17th 2015. Dundalk were 2-0 up at the time when he was sent-off by Neil Doyle for a foul on Ryan Brennan.
Gary’s European debut came on July 16th 2009 in a 1-1 draw with Valletta in Richmond Park. Fabio O’Brien with the goal for Pat’s and Gilbert Agius for Valletta.
He went 497 minutes without conceding at the start of the 2010 season for St Pat’s before Jason Byrne’s equaliser for Bohs in a 1-1 draw at Dalymount on April 6th 2010. Vinny Faherty had got the Pat’s goal on 19 mins. He would later go 540 minutes without conceding for Dundalk at the start of the 2015 season before Paul O’Conor’s goal earned Limerick a last gasp share of the points in a 1-1 draw at Jackman Park on April 4th.
Gary Rogers’ two best seasons as a goalkeeper saw him keep 26 clean sheets. This came in 2013 for Sligo and 2019 for Dundalk. His 23 clean sheets for Dundalk in the league in 2019 equalled the league record held by Alan O’Neill from Dundalk’s successful 1990/91 league campaign.
Gary’s Dundalk debut came on February 10th 2015 in a 2-1 LSC win over UCD at Oriel Park – Ronan Finn and David McMillan with the goals and Dylan Watts for UCD.
The only time he was beaten by a namesake was in a 4-3 defeat to Drogheda Utd for St Pat’s in October 2011 when Dave Rogers scored a 31st minute penalty that had cancelled out David McMillan’s opener at United Park.
Twice called in the Republic of Ireland senior squad, he is one of just a handful of players to have played in two Europa League group stage campaigns. His 33 starts is a joint record for Dundalk along with Sean Gannon, although the latter has featured five more times off the bench.
PFAI chairman from 2015 until earlier this year, he helped Irish football through some of its most difficult times including helping the Irish women’s team in their battle for better rights in recent years.
His shoot-out saves against Riga in 2019 and Sheriff Tiraspol in 2020 for Dundalk were the most valuable in League of Ireland history, earning the club where he was home to from November 2014 to December 2020 millions in the process.
Unbeaten home run ends Dundalk’s defeat to Shamrock Rovers on Sunday was the club’s first home league defeat in 26 matches stretching back to the 2-1 loss against the Hoops in August 2018. That club record is now over with Sunday’s result Dundalk’s heaviest defeat at home in the league since losing 5-0 to Kilkenny City in July 2005. It was also the first time the Lilywhites have conceded three goals in the first half of a league match at Oriel Park since February 1996 when they lost 4-2 to Bohemians.
100 not out for Kelly Daniel Kelly played the 100th game of his career against Shamrock Rovers on Sunday. The winger also made his 30th league start for Dundalk on the night.
Rare outing for Dummigan Cameron Dummigan made his fifth league start for Dundalk against Shamrock Rovers on Sunday but it was his first since playing in the 1-0 win away to St Patrick’s Athletic in July 2019 – a game also played between European matches.
Double landmark for Boyle Sunday was a big night for Andy Boyle, who played his 200th match for Dundalk. It was also his 250th game in the SSE Airtricity League.
Debuts galore Meath man Andrew Quinn came in for his debut on Sunday while there were first league starts for the club for Joshua Gatt, Will Patching and Nathan Oduwa. Youngsters Jamie Wynne and Val Adedokun also made their debuts for the club as second half substitutes.
Murray on target Sean Murray’s goal against Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday night was his first in 560 days since scoring in the 2-0 win away to Derry City in March 2019. The last time a Murray scored in Europe for Dundalk was way back in 1968 when Kevin Murray scored against Rangers in Ibrox, again just before half-time. A certain Sir Alex Ferguson featured for the Glasgow men that day. Murray’s goal continued the trend of Dundalk number 16s scoring big goals in Europe following on from Ciaran Kilduff against AZ Alkmaar and Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2016 and Dylan Connolly against Levadia Tallinn in 2018.
History made Dundalk’s advancement on penalties against Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday means it is the first time in the club’s history that they have come from behind to win a game in Europe.
McMillan on target in Europe again David McMillan scored the ninth European goal of his career against Inter Club d’Escalades on Thursday night and his first since scoring the opener in the 1-1 draw with Rosenborg in July 2017. McMillan now has more European goals for Dundalk (8) than he has managed for the club in the EA Sports Cup (7) and FAI Cup (7). Thursday’s game was the 20th European start of his career.
First red for Boyle Andy Boyle picked up the first red card of his career on Friday in what was his 378th career appearance. He did get two yellows once upon a time against UCD in June 2014 but wasn’t sent off, although he did get a subsequent ban.
Another clean sheet for Rogers Gary Rogers kept the 14th clean sheet of his European career on Thursday night. Shay Given, with 23, is the only Irish goalkeeper with more. The Meath man was back in the side for the clash with Inter Club for what was his 220th game in Dundalk colours. He has now played a record 47 games in Europe – six clear of Ollie Cahill and Ronan Finn.
30 not out for Shields Chris Shields captained Dundalk in Andorra on what is his 30th European appearance for the club. He moved level with Sean Gannon as Dundalk’s record European appearance holder but the latter regained the title after coming off the bench in the second half. The record before this generation was held by the late, great Tommy McConville with 19.
European debut for Sloggett Greg Sloggett mades his European debut in Andorra on Thursday night. He missed UCD’s four matches in the Europa League in 2015 with a hip injury while a toe fracture kept him out of Dundalk’s Champions League defeat to NK Celje in Budapest last month.
Landmark for Gartland Brian Gartland’s first half header against Shelbourne on Friday night was the 50th goal of his career and came against the club who he scored his first for in a 2-2 draw with Kildare County on March 9th 2007. It was his 37th goal in total for Dundalk and his 30th in the league for the club.
50th league goal for Duffy Michael Duffy scored the 50th SSE Airtricity League goal of his career with his opener on Friday night. His first also came against Shelbourne at Tolka Park on June 8th 2013 when Derry City won 1-0.
Sloggett on target Greg Sloggett scored the goal that clinched the win last time Dundalk won away to Finn Harps back at the start of March and his strike against Shelbourne on Friday was the one that got them back to winning ways. It was the 11th goal of his career, his second against Shelbourne and first at Oriel Park.
Rare winning start for new boss Filippo Giovagnoli became the first Dundalk manager since Ian Foster in March 2010 to win their first league game in charge of the club. You have to go back to 1996 when John Hewitt’s Dundalk had a 1-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic to find the last time a new manager won their first league game at Oriel Park.
Good record continues Since 2013 Dundalk have lost just one of their 36 games against promoted teams with 31 wins. The one loss was agaisnt Waterford FC in 2018.
New club record Dundalk’s win over Shelbourne on Friday night marked a new club record of 26 home league matches without defeat. This surpassed the previous record of 25 which ran from 2013 to 2015.
McCarey starts Aaron McCarey was brought into the side on Friday night for just his 10th Dundalk appearance since joining from Warrenpoint. It was also just his second league start. His last came last October in the 1-0 defeat away to Cork City. For the first time in 10 years and 10 months (3,959 days to be exact), McCarey and Brian Gartland started a league game together. The last time they did so was November 10th 2009 when Monaghan Utd beat Wexford 3-0 at Gortakeegan. The referee that night, like Friday, was Paul McLaughlin.