A striker can be forgiven for wondering when his next goal will come but Dundalk’s Patrick Hoban has extra reason to look forward to the next time he makes the net bulge.
Having scored the 100th league goal of his career last time out against Finn Harps in Ballybofey, the 28-year-old now has another century in his sights. Having scored five goals in the club’s opening five games before the season was halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Hoban now sits on 99 goals in all competitions for Dundalk.
Needless to say, he can’t wait for his next one.
“It’s going to be a big one all right,” he laughed.
“It’s a funny one to get to 99 and then the season just stops but I’m sure we’ll be out on the pitch again whenever that may be so hopefully I can finish that off sooner rather than later and keep scoring goals for Dundalk.
“99 goals in four and a bit seasons isn’t bad in terms of goal ratio so I just want to keep that up. I think I’m on to 81 league goals for the club so I’d like to get to 100 league goals for Dundalk as well. That would definitely be my aim for this season.
“It would be some achievement to do that in five seasons. That’s another goal that I’d like to achieve sooner rather than later but it will be that bit more difficult with the season being cut a small bit but it’s definitely something I want to achieve.”
If and when he joins the illustrious 100 club with his next strike, Hoban will become just the sixth player to do so after Joey Donnelly (142 goals), Eddie Carroll (113), Joe Martin (109), Paddy Turner (104) and Jimmy Hasty (103).
Ironically it will be a year this weekend since the Galwegian surpassed Donnelly’s 80-year record as the club’s leading league goalscorer with the opener in a 2-1 win over Shamrock Rovers. The two title contenders were due to meet again at Oriel Park this Friday night and despite Stephen Bradley’s side coming out on top when the sides met in Tallaght Stadium at the end of February, Hoban insists Vinny Perth’s side were only really getting going when the season stopped.
“That game was a real turning point for us last season and getting such a big goal in it to beat the record was obviously brilliant.
“Unfortunately at this moment in time I can’t increase the record because it would be good to leave a good target for someone else to come in and beat in a few years’ time.
“We actually started the season quite well apart from maybe the result in Tallaght. I know people were saying it was a cracker but I don’t think we played well at all apart from maybe about 20 minutes but it has been a killer for me personally because I started the season so well.
“I was getting to play 90 minutes and that meant my match fitness was quite high early doors.
“We were definitely all coming together when the season stopped. There were lads coming back from injuries and a few new lads who hadn’t really played yet so we were only going to get stronger from where we were.
“You’d be looking at good times ahead but with everything that has gone on it has put a stop to that but we just have to make sure that when we come back we’re ready to go again.
“There’s going to be at least a series of games taken out so that means that every three points is even more important. You can’t afford to drop many points and the head to heads are going to be massive as well but it will probably make the season that bit more interesting.”
Hoban had looked sharper than ever in the early stages of the season and he puts that down to a new diet and having a full pre-season under his belt.
“I changed a few things but the fact I had no niggles in pre-season was massive.
“I didn’t come into pre-season with any injuries like I had in recent years. I wasn’t behind so I got to hit the ground running.
“I did change a few things in my diet as well. I was eating half vegetarian and half not. I changed how I was eating as well, eating smaller portions but more frequently instead of the three big meals with snacks in between. I scrapped all that and tried something of my own and it was working. I changed a few other things and they were working out well so whenever we do get back I just have to get back into that really.
“I’m just trying to stay fit now, that’s all you can do. We’re six days on and one day off. There’s something every day, three runs and three gym sessions as well.”
In between, Hoban has been playing his part in the community and recently dropped off PPE supplies to four nursing homes in the area following a club fundraiser online.
He said he was happy to play his part.
“When I got the call to go do it I said yes straight away because those in our nursing homes are the ones right in the firing line of everything that is going on. They’re facing it every day and they’re doing a fantastic job.
“They’re the heroes now. To many people we’re the heroes on a Friday night but we’re only trying to win a game of football. They’re the real heroes who are facing into this crazy time.”
This is a difficult time for Hoban too personally as he is unable to visit his family in Loughrea at a time when they are cocooning.
“It’s all Zoom or video calls at the moment,” he said.
“My mother, step dad and my nanny would all have underlying issues so they’re not leaving the house at all. My brothers and sisters are looking after them with whatever they need.
“The last time I was home was after the St Pat’s game got called off. I used that time to go home because I had a feeling we would be going into lockdown. Seeing them through the window is not the same as giving them a hug or anything like that.
“It is difficult but we just have to get through it together and make sure we come out the right side of it,” he said.