David McMillan is hoping he can pick up from where he left off when Dundalk return to competitive action next month.
After an initial slow start to his second spell at Oriel Park following his return from Scotland last July, the striker finished the season in style with two goals against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League to equal the record for most goals by a League of Ireland player in Europe. There was also a brace away to both Bohemians and Athlone Town in the FAI Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively before he became just the third player in history to score a hat-trick in the final as Dundalk beat Shamrock Rovers 4-2 after extra time at the Aviva Stadium last December to ensure a topsy-turvy year ended with some silverware.
The 32-year-old will be back in action along with his team-mates for the first time this year when they welcome Bohemians to Oriel Park for the first of the two pre-season friendlies.
Having missed out on a proper pre-season before the league resumed after a break for Covid last summer, McMillan said he was looking forward to the next couple of matches against Bohs and Drogheda to get him prepared for the President’s Cup clash with Rovers on March 12th and the league opener away to Sligo eight days later.
“We’ve been back quite a while but we’re really only going to have two friendlies, Bohs and Drogheda, over the next two weeks so I suppose heading into this week it’s nice to be having a normal training week that you’d be used to going into a game on the Friday.
“Last year was frustrating because I had been hoping to sign back maybe a week or two before I did and probably for that to have happened would have been more advantageous for myself and the club to be back training longer but that’s just the way it worked out.
“It can be hard to get some deals over the line and you’re sometimes relying on other people coming and going. It took a while personally for myself to get up and running but it’s nice to have had an injury-free pre-season so far to get up to speed and continue hopefully from where I left off at the end of last year.
“The end to last year was a good time for me personally being amongst the goals. I had had a long time off from March through to July with very little other than individual training so by the time I got up to speed and started playing more games the season was over but that’s the way it was.
“It was just a strange year and I’m sure this year will be a little bit different as well as there might be breaks in play but hopefully later in the year we’ll be fully back to normal fingers crossed. It was a good end to the year but it has been such a short break. It really has felt like no time off at all and now I’m back in training and feeling good.”
One frustration for McMillan last year was that he failed to grab a league goal but with a 36-game season ahead, he is hoping to put that right sooner rather than later.
“Definitely, that was frustrating but to get the other goals helped alleviate the annoyance.
“It’s a fresh start this year and I’ll be looking to get as many goals and as many games as possible but I think we’re building a strong squad and there’ll be plenty of competition and hopefully there’ll be plenty of goals to come from a few of us.
“We’re just building towards that President’s Cup game now. There has been a couple of niggly injuries for some players in the group but hopefully they’ll get back over the next few weeks and we’ll be raring to go against Rovers on the 12th and Sligo the following week,” he said.