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.