John Mountney’s next appearance will be a landmark 300th for Dundalk but he is hopeful there will be bigger accolades ahead for him and his team-mates before the year is out.
The Mayo man will be just the 14th to reach such a figure in the Lilywhites’ history should he feature against Bohemians in the FAI Cup quarter-final at Dalymount Park this Friday.
While he was delighted to be informed of the landmark by The Argus at the weekend, he says it is far more important to him to ensure he adds to the 14 major honours he has won since making his debut in a game which would later he scrapped from the record books – a 0-0 draw away to Monaghan Utd on March 2nd 2012.
“To be only 27 and have 300 appearances for a club like Dundalk is fantastic,” he said.
“I don’t keep an eye on appearances unless you hear someone say it’s a landmark of 100, 200 or 250 or something but 300 is brilliant.”
Mountney was part of the Dundalk side which shocked Bohs courtesy of a Marc Griffin free kick the last time the two sides met in the Cup back in his debut season at the club in 2012. He is determined that the side repeat that achievement eight years on this Friday.
“I remember that game and the free kick from Griff. It was a great free kick up and over the wall.
“Whatever about it being my 300th appearance, it’s a game that the lads have had an eye on for a while because we feel we owe Bohs one.
“The highs of Europe have been fantastic but with the lows of this year’s league we want to go out with a bang this season and our way of doing that in our heads is to get to the Cup final.”
For all the success Mountney has had at Dundalk, he feels they have left a few Cup finals behind them so is more determined than ever to ensure this topsy turvy year ends on a high.
“We’ve had five cup finals in the Aviva so to have lost more than you’ve won is disappointing and it can take away from your achievements too because I remember times where we had won the league title and a lot of times we didn’t have time to celebrate it because we were focused on the Cup final. Obviously we’ve had times where we’ve won and gone out on a high and celebrated it but when you lose the Cup final it nearly takes away from what went before and leaves a bitterness in your mouth over the off season because it takes away from winning the league.
“As a player and as a club it is huge to go out on a high at the end of your season. With the disappointment of not doing it last year, there’ll definitely be a hunger to put it right this year.
“It’s always a disappointment when you don’t come away with medals so that’s why it’s such a big factor for us this year because we want to go out on a high by winning something. Europe is a brilliant experience and it gives you memories that you’ll always look back on but there’s no medals for it,” he said.
While victory on Friday after more than a week and a half off could potentially set up another busy period of games for Dundalk, Mountney says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There have been highs and lows the last month or so. I feel like we’ve had good performances in Europe but not got results. It’s good to put in those performances and to show that we’re able to compete at that level but it’s devastating then not to have anything to show for it.
“That rolls into our league form. With having matches every three days we’ve had to rotate a lot which is tough, especially with being a couple of bodies down, but now our main focus is to get into the last four of the Cup and go out on a high with the maximum amount of games. We want to have a Cup semi and a Cup final to look forward to.
“People are saying the schedule will be hectic if we beat Bohs because we’ll play Athlone and then potentially another Cup final but that’s the situation you want to be in. You don’t want to go out in the quarters or semis and have a week between games. You want a busy schedule knowing you have a big Cup game in between the European games.
“Winning a Cup can set you up for the following year too. Also it can have a big impact on the lads in terms of how the mind works because if you can win it the attitude is that the club is still winning things and everyone wants to be part of a successful team,” said the 27-year-old.
While the new Dundalk FC jersey might have divided opinion among fans when it was unveiled last week, for the club’s joint longest serving player John Mountney, he was only too happy to pull it on.
The 26-year-old, who is heading into his ninth season at the club, endured a frustrating time with injuries last season and was only making his return towards the end of the campaign.
With his injury problems behind him, Mountney is already raring to go for next season and said at Saturday’s kit launch that pulling on the new jersey had only whet his appetite even more to get back on the pitch.
“It was one of them things where I was rushing to try and get back involved for the end of the year. I wasn’t fully fit but I was getting there towards the end of the year and it meant that I was coming into the off-season just ready to get going.
“Everyone took the first two weeks off but we’re back in programmes now already. We’ll be in a few days over the Christmas and then back in early January so it won’t be long until it all starts back again.
“I’m feeling great now. Even speaking to the lads now, our fitness coach Graham has us all on good programmes and everyone is feeling good still.
“Coming in and seeing the new shop and all the new gear, there might have been controversy online, but when you put the jersey it’s nice. It’s nice on and a nice fit.
“When you put it on everyone starts thinking about the new season. We haven’t even hit Christmas yet and already you’re thinking about getting going.”
Mountney has good memories of wearing Umbro gear having won two leagues, an EA Sports Cup and an FAI Cup in their products in 2014 and 2015.
“We’ve good memories in Umbro gear but CX+ and David Minto were brilliant as well for the last few years. So far, everything looks nice and it definitely gives you the feel for next year.
“Even coming here to the Lilywhite Lounge and you see the photos on the wall of the years we won the league, you remember the jerseys. It brings back memories then.”
Mountney said he was also looking forward to meeting up with the new members of the squad that head coach Vinny Perth was in the process of adding at present.
“At the end of every year there’s usually a couple who go and you have to bring a couple in who can hopefully strengthen you because you have to keep looking forward. It’s always exciting to sign new players and when you sign players who aren’t from the league it’s exciting to see what they’re going to bring to you as well,” he said.
John Mountney says he wants to add more goals to his game after completing his first career hat-trick against Sligo Rovers on Friday night.
The Mayo man’s treble took his goal return in the league this season to four, equaling his career best from last season.
While he hasn’t set himself a target, he told The Argus of his desire to add more goals to his game.
“I haven’t set a target but I always knew that goals are something I need to add more of to my game so that was my main motivation this year.
“As a team, of course, we want to win things but individually for myself it’s to try and score a few more.”
A 4-0 win also ensured his record of Dundalk winning in all 22 matches he has scored in for the club continues.
“I’ll just have to try and keep scoring,” he said, when that stat was put to him.
“I wasn’t aware that it was my 200th league game as well but it was a great way to mark it.
“It’s the icing on the cake and a lovely touch to get my first senior hat-trick and do it at home in Oriel Park in front of the fans here was great.”
Mountney praised his colleague Pat Hoban for handing him the ball to take the penalty which secured his treble.
“Pat is our penalty taker and scored the first one tonight so it was a nice touch for him to give me the chance to complete my hat-trick. It was a lovely touch by Patrick just to hand me the ball.”
It brought back memories of a similar game against Sligo in May 2017 when Ciaran Kilduff allowed Jamie McGrath to take a late penalty to complete his first career treble.
“I remember that and it just shows the fact it happened a few years ago and again tonight that there’s a real togetherness about the group.
“Once we’re winning as a team the individual side of things doesn’t matter.”
Mountney said he was particularly pleased to have scored a couple of headers on the night.
“It’s a massive thing,” he said.
“Stephen O’Donnell was always on to me to be more of an aerial threat coming into the box. He was always betting me that I wouldn’t score headers but he probably can’t believe it now that I’ve got three of them this season.
“It’s something I always had the potential to add to my game and hopefully now it has come together a bit more.”
A 4-0 win made it 11 wins from 12 for Dundalk and continued their revival since losing 2-1 away to Sligo on April 12th. Mountney has been delighted with the turnaround since that night in The Showgrounds and is now anxious to keep it going away to Finn Harps this Saturday.
“It has been a great run since Sligo away. As well as scoring goals and winning games, our back line and goalkeeper are keeping clean sheets which is always a great sign.
“We’ve Finn Harps now away which is a tough enough venue to go to. It’s always tricky up there but we’ll just have to prepare right this week for that,” he said.