Thursday 22 March 2018

Richie's raring to go after call-offs

Soccer: SSE Airtricity League

Drogheda United’s Richie Purdy gets a step ahead of Aaron Greene of Bray Wanderers during last season’s ill-fated Premier campaign. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Drogheda United’s Richie Purdy gets a step ahead of Aaron Greene of Bray Wanderers during last season’s ill-fated Premier campaign. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Marcus Cavaroli

Life pretty much ground to a halt for a few days across Ireland last week and it was no different for the Drogheda United footballers as they enjoyed an extended holiday from training as well as matches.

However, after doing all the hard work in pre-season there's a growing feeling of restlessness in the camp as the countdown begins - again - to their first game of the season at home to Athlone Town next Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

Almost a month will have passed since they lined out against Bangor Celtic in the Leinster Senior Cup, and there will undoubtedly be signs of rustiness when the Boynesiders finally kick off at the fourth time of asking - weather permitting.

Richie Purdy for one is desperate for the campaign to begin and he's keeping his fingers crossed that we've finally seen the end of the Arctic weather conditions for this year.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon, the 20-year-old midfielder, who is starting his third season with the Drogs, said: 'Two weeks in and we still haven't played a game and we've not trained since last Monday, but there's nothing you can do about that because the weather's been so bad.

'I'm in Tallaght and you still can't move, but I think we're meant to be having a gym session on Monday and I have stuff in my house I've been using like a core machine and medicine balls.'

With the Finn Harps and Shelbourne league games postponed along with last night's EA Sports Cup tie at St Mochta's, attention is now turning to the visit of Athlone and Purdy is wary of the Midlanders despite most pundits and the bookies fancying them to finish in the bottom two along with Wexford.

'We will look at it like it's our first game, we're looking forward to it and I think we just have to go out and enjoy it,' he remarked.

'Apart from the last few days pre-season has gone well and we need to play the way we've played in those games.

'I think every game is going to be tough, no matter what. I don't know much about Athlone, except that they put together a squad only recently, but I'm sure they'll be well organised and difficult to break down and we'll have to be patient with the ball and not get frustrated.

'We have to think about it as if we're playing the best team in the league and play our normal game. We can't look past them because they're going to be tough and we could be a bit rusty.

'The result is the main thing. We want to get off to a good start, but we're just taking each game as it comes because it's such a tight league.'

As part of last season's Premier Division squad where several prominent members left of their own volition during the summer, Purdy knows only too well the importance of a strong dressing-room and on that score it's nothing but good news so far.

'It's a very good squad and the dressing-room has been very good since the start of the season and I think that's showed in our pre-season games.

'We've got a few good lads in like Chris Lyons and Paul Skinner who've been excellent and they've helped the [camaraderie in the] dressing-room.'

On a personal level, Purdy acknowledged that his own contribution last year - which of course ended with Drogheda being relegated - could have been better even though he was a regular starter, and that mixed form is something he is keen to address.

'I just want to improve on last year. I thought I had some good games and a few poor ones and I just need to find a bit more consistency.

'I wanted to join Drogheda again because I like the club, the fans are great and the staff have been excellent.

'I was surprised, to be fair, when Tim Clancy got the job [as manager]. I thought he was still playing, so it was a bit of a shock, but he's been doing very well.

'He's young and has fresh ideas and because we're young players we feed off that.'

Drogheda Independent