It hasn’t been easy for Georgie Kelly playing second fiddle to Pat Hoban since arriving at Dundalk but after marking his first league start for the club with a crucial opening goal against Bohemians on Friday, he is hopeful he showed enough for Vinny Perth to consider him his top gun.
With Hoban going for goalscoring records at the end of last season and start of this, Kelly has managed just a handful of substitute appearances since his arrival from UCD last July.
Indeed, his last league start prior to Friday night was 315 days earlier for the Students in their 5-1 defeat at home to Longford Town.
By his own admission, the 22-year-old knew when he arrived at Oriel Park he wouldn’t be an automatic starter but he admits watching on from the sidelines with so little involvement has been tougher than he imagined.
“It is tough,” he admitted afterwards.
“Coming here I knew I wasn’t going to push Pat out of the team because he is one of the best strikers in the history of the league. I knew I’d have to bide my time and that when I did get a chance that hopefully I can make an impact. Hopefully tonight I did that.”
His 22ndminute opener certainly showed what the Donegal man is capable of but he admitted to remembering little about it.
“I don’t even know what happened,” he laughed.
“I just turned and hit it. I didn’t even see where it went or what happened but it was brilliant by Michael (Duffy) to cut in past two or three of them and when it came to me then I just turned and hit it and thank God it went in.
“It was a big goal and the timing was important. Bohs are a tight-knit side so if you don’t score early it makes it tight and they can sit in and try to catch you on the counter. So to get an early goal to give us that little edge was massive and I was delighted to get it.
“It’s my first Premier Division start and the most I’ve played. Before this I’ve only ever come on for 15 or 20 minutes so I was delighted and to top it off it’s great to get three points and go top of the league.”
Kelly admits he still has work to do to get more game time with Hoban back from suspension for this Friday’s trip to Cork.
“All I can do is put the ball in the net when I get the chance. It’s out of my control now. I thought I put in an all right shift but there’s no denying what Pat has done and his record for the club so it’s up to Vinny and it’s in his hands
“I definitely feel like I’ve a bit of work to go in terms of match sharpness and that pitch probably didn’t help because it felt huge compared to Oriel. There’s a hill on it as well and with the bit of rain beforehand it was a bit damp and leggy so my calves were nearly gone and I really felt it after 50 or 60 minutes so I do have a bit to go but it’s over two months since I last played a game or played 90 minutes so it’s good to get 70 or 80 under the belt anyway.”
Kelly said in hindsight he should have put his hand up to take the 76thminute spot kick which James Talbot saved from Chris Shields.
“It was probably my own fault that I didn’t take it. During the week I wasn’t as confident when someone was asking who was on pens. I never really hit pens, even at UCD, but I was kind of raging then that I didn’t take it but it’s easy saying that now.
“Luckily Sean Hoare got a second for us quickly after that. It was perfect timing because it could have got nervy after the penalty but it was an unbelievable ball in from Mickey and that goal kind of sealed it and calmed us down.”
Now Kelly is looking ahead to a difficult trip to Turner’s Cross – a game he hopes to have as big a say in.
“All teams when a manager changes, it always kind of changes the mood in the camp and gives teams a little spark so it’s going to be a tough game against Cork, one of the toughest of our season, so if we can get the three points it will be huge for us,” he said.