David McMillan’s return to Oriel Park last week brought back many good memories but the player himself insist he hasn’t came back to Dundalk to live on past glories.
It was four years ago on Sunday since the striker’s brace helped the Lilywhites to a memorable 3-0 win over BATE Borisov at Tallaght Stadium – a result which assured Stephen Kenny’s side their passage through to the Europa League group stages.
McMillan, who officially returned to Oriel Park last Monday after a two-and-a-half year spell in Scotland, still has fond memories of that period but says he is here to do a job for Vinny Perth’s side this season.
“It’s obviously good to be back and get a good reaction but you can’t live on what happened in the past,” said the 31-year-old.
“I’ve only signed until the end of this season so it’s a very short spell, only three months really, so for me it’s about knuckling down very quickly. That’s why I was so happy to play the game against Linfield on Saturday. It was great to get those minutes under the belt and to feel coming into this week that I’m back to where I should be.
“I just want to try and hit the ground running because three months can slip by really quickly if you’re not ready to go.”
The former UCD player said he was happy to be back in Ireland, not just Dundalk.
“I don’t think I’d have stayed in Scotland no matter what,” he said.
“I might have looked abroad somewhere else but with the Coronavirus and having not been home since January or seen family since then I think all of that just makes you want to be at home.
“It was good to get back three or four weeks ago. I’m back in living with my parents for the time being but it’s nice to be home and to be able to spend time with family so I’m glad to be back. Obviously I have a very big tie with Dundalk as well so to know there was an opportunity to come back was brilliant and I was desperate then for that to happen. I had to sit patiently for a little while for it to get over the line and thankfully it did.”
McMillan said he would let others judge in time whether he had improved as a player during his time away.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked if he had added different aspects to his game from having experienced football elsewhere.
“I just felt that over the last while I haven’t played enough football. I also accept the fact that I’m coming into a club where Pat has been the number 9 for the past couple of seasons and has done brilliantly.
“I suppose my job is to try and put him under pressure in a good way. I haven’t played though in so long that I just want to get back playing games and training as much as possible and get that feeling of being back in with a group again.
“I want to hit the ground running as quickly as possible but in terms of me as a player I still feel I’m similar to when I left. I’ll still hassle defenders, run non-stop and try to get myself in the box and get as many goals as I can. I’m just excited to get as many minutes as I can on the pitch.”
McMillan described his time in Scotland at St Johnstone, where he also had loan spells at Hamilton and Falkirk, as frustrating.
“24 starts in two and a half years is not great going,” he said.
“The lack of games was the most frustrating part of it. It was difficult to get a consistent run in the team. I’ve got to accept that ultimately my performances must not have been good enough but I missed the first six months of my time there with injury and then basically six months after that I was told I could leave.
“A year into a two-and-a-half year deal that’s not the best scenario so from then on it was a bit of a struggle but I still felt I did enough in terms of scoring goals when I played but I just didn’t get the opportunities that I felt I deserved to get.”
McMillan made his comeback as a late substitute for Patrick McEleney in Friday’s 1-1 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic. That was a disappointing result but he is hopeful his side can respond with victory over Bohemians in Dalymount Park this weekend.
“On Friday we just didn’t do enough to win the game but we’ll look at that during the week to see why and hopefully we can improve and make sure it doesn’t happen again come this Friday.
“Amongst the group on Friday night players spoke openly about things we need to work on and I think there’s great leadership within the group. There’s enough there who have been around for a long time and they’re still hungry to do well. They’re happy to speak up and be honest about why things didn’t work out in a game and I think that’s a really healthy thing and a good thing. Hopefully that leadership will help us for the rest of the season.
“As I said, it’s going to be short and it’s going to be quick so we can’t have too many slip-ups.
“I read over the weekend that our points so far is similar to other league winning seasons but we might not have the games to catch up with Rovers so we’ve got to hit the ground running now. Bohs will be a very tough game though. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to Dalymount and got an easy game but it’s a big one for us and hopefully we’ll be ready,” he said.