independent

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Gareth braced for Cobh showdown despite ankle injury

Marcus Cavaroli

Gareth McCaffrey looked up to the stand as he celebrated his first goal and perhaps noticed Sean Brennan applauding him and signalling to 'keep the head'.

Brennan, who was suspended for the Longford game, no doubt appreciated the quality of the free kick more than most, and McCaffrey certainly heeded his advice as he went on to score the winning goal with another classy finish.

He hadn't previously scored since bagging a brace in the home win against UCD in the first week of April, so his latest contribution was particularly sweet after being out of action for five weeks.

'People probably wouldn't know that I had a pretty nasty about a month ago in my ankle and did a bit of damage to my ligaments,' he explained.

'We had a game against our Under-19s last week and I played about 70 minutes, the same as tonight, and that was my first competitive game since it happened.

'I didn't think I was going to last that long, but luckily it [the ankle] held up well up until I got a little collision with the keeper.

'It feels okay at the moment, it's sore and you take knocks, but when you end up winning it's worth it and fingers crossed I'll play in the next game.'

Describing his two goals, McCaffrey continued: 'The first one myself and Richie were standing over it and he said 'I'm going to hit it', but I didn't hear him say it.

'I played with Mick [Kelly, goalkeeper] at Cabinteely and I know that he likes to dive over the wall as such as I'm looking at it, so I just thought I'd give it a go and luckily it went in.

'The second one, Mick's a big lad, so when you see him coming at you, you know you're not going to put it in the corner. I dinked it, sometimes they come off and sometimes it doesn't and luckily today it did.'

Many people watching felt that second goal should have been chalked off for offside, but McCaffrey's first reaction was that he'd timed his run to perfection.

'I was looking at it [offside line], I made the run just as Chrissy was passing it and I thought I was well onside, but I wouldn't mind seeing it back!'

Whether it was a legitimate goal or not, McCaffrey felt Drogheda deserved any good fortune that came their way.

'We were at home here against Finn Harps and we conceded in the last minute, but this is the flip side of it now. You earn your luck as such and I thought the lads fought really hard today. It was a massive performance, even from the lads that came on, and we're delighted, but it's not finished.

'We still have to go to Cobh and put up a performance and get something out of that game as well, so that's what we'll be focusing on now.'

And while the attendance against Longford was quite sparse, McCaffrey paid tribute to those who did turn out on the night.

'I have to say thanks to all the fans that came out. You saw when we were in the Premier Division and we were playing Shamrock Rovers or Bohemians, they're more lucrative ties, but to be fair to the fans that were here today they made some noise and it felt like there was double the number here, which is brilliant.

'In the last five or 10 minutes when you're nearly down and out, they give you that push on, so it's brilliant to have them.'

McCaffrey, who had been hobbling shortly before scoring his second goal and was substituted shortly after, ended by shrugging off doubts about his fitness should Drogheda qualify for the play-offs.

'Absolutely I'll be able to manage it. If it wasn't okay, I wouldn't have played today, so I'm sure we'll take the weekend off and come back on Monday or Tuesday, with the game being on Saturday.

'I feel sore, like I would after any game, but I'm okay.'

Drogheda Independent

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