Rogers on GAA mission with Cavan goalkeepers
SLIGO Rovers goalkeeper, Gary Rogers, is keeping his passion for the GAA alive by coaching Cavan's goalkeepers.
Leo Gray reports
While most of his Sligo Rovers team mates are enjoying the first day of their mid-summer break on Sunday, goalkeeper, Gary Rogers, will be indulging in his other sporting passion, Gaelic football.
Championship Sundays are the heartbeat of Irish summers and Rogers will relish being in the thick of it all this week-end.
He'll be in Brewster Park, Enniskillen for the eagerly awaited Ulster Championship quarter-final between Fermanagh and Cavan.
And the big goalkeeper will have a 'hands on' interest in the intriguing battle - literally.
For Rovers number one is coach to Cavan's goalkeepers - a role he's enjoyed since the start of the current season.
A former Meath outfield player, Rogers is now the top 'keeper in the Airtricity Leage - he was voted goalkeeper of the year in 2013 after Rovers historic League triumph.
Now he's bringing all his experience and expertise to coaching GAA goalies.
"The GAA has always been an important part of my life so the role with Cavan fits perfectly", he says.
"Obviously, as a professional soccer player, I am totally committed to Rovers but it's great to have the opportunity to keep my interest in the GAA alive"
On the day of Cavan's opening Championship match with Armagh, Rogers trained with Rovers in the morning and rushed to the big GAA game immediately afterwards.
"I got there just in time to do some warm-up work with the keepers", he explains.
"It turned out to be a great day for Cavan as they clocked up a very impressive win"
On this occasion, the build-up will be more relaxed.
He says: "Rovers are at home to UCD on Saturday and then the seasons goes into the mid-summer break.
"So I'll be free to join up with the Cavan lads on Sunday and do some work with the goalkeepers"
There are four goalkeepers in the Cavan squad - Conor Gilsenan, James O'Reilly, Alan O'Meara and the up and coming young DCU 'keeper, Jim Farrelly.
"There's strong competition for the number one jersey so training is always competitive.
"They're great lads to work with"
Technically, the basics are the same for soccer and GAA 'keepers in terms of footwork and handling.
But there's more emphasis on kick outs and catching high balls under pressure in Gaelic football, Rogers explains.
He tailors his coaching sessions to deal with this duties.
With a solid under-age structure in the county, Cavan are quietly fancied to do well in Ulster but Rogers believes they will be keeping everything in context.
"They had a great win over Armagh the last day but I don't think they'll get carried away with that", he says.
"They know it's only one win and that there's still a lot of work to do.
"I don't think they'll be taking anything for granted in Brewster Park"
Rogers, who lives in Riverstown with several other members of Rovers sqaud, also helps out with training Shamrock Gaels Intermediate team.
"I miss playing Gaelic football so coaching is the next best thing", he says
If the GAA offers a welcome break from the pressure of professional soccer, Rogers is as ambitious as ever when it comes to helping Rovers win more silverware this year.
"I'd like to think we'll be serious contenders in the three competitions we're contesting", he insists.
"It's been a bit of a mixed bag so far for us this season but I believe the best is still to come.
"It's good to have a break to re-charge the batteries and I think our full-time training will stand to us in the latter part of the season"
Rogers won the Goalkeeper of the Year award last season and he intends to do all he can to retain the coveted accolade.
He says "I'm as hungry as ever for success and I would love to win the goalkeeper's award again
"Collectively, we all have the same desire.
"It was great to win the League last year but you can't live in the past.
"It's all about what we can achieve this season and there are still three major trophies to play for"