Monday 19 November 2018

Dundalk ready to profit from Euro vision, insists Rogers

Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers celebrates the FAI Cup final victory with his daughter Bonnie. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers celebrates the FAI Cup final victory with his daughter Bonnie. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The American takeover of Dundalk was ultimately about delivering success in Europe and Stephen Kenny's dressing room are well aware of that reality.

It was referenced consistently in the aftermath of Sunday's FAI Cup final win over Cork City which secured a domestic double for Kenny's side.

The Lansdowne Road success was sweet but the league victory provides the golden ticket of a return to the Champions League, the route which offers the best chance of progression - realistically it's the parachute into the Europa League that opens doors.

That was how Kenny's side made waves in 2016 and goalkeeper Gary Rogers believes this group are building towards another tilt on continental soil.

"The European success two years ago is something we want to replicate and that's the target," said Rogers, speaking ahead of a civic reception for Dundalk in the town last night.

Opportunity

"It's the one major thing this league can give you that England can't - apart from for very few players.

"There are not a lot of Irish players playing in Europe and we have the opportunity nearly every year to play and test ourselves against the best there is.

"We've done well in that department apart from a bad half this year (v Larnaca in Cyprus). Overall we've acquitted ourselves well over a number of years. That will be the challenge next year."

For Rogers, every medal matters as he knows he is coming towards the final stretch of his career. The 37-year-old recently signed a new one-year deal after a solid campaign between the sticks.

In recent years, he has supplemented his work as a professional football by returning to the GAA scene as a goalkeeping coach.

Rogers, who was on the fringes of the intercounty scene in his youth, has had stints with Cavan and Westmeath and he will be helping out his native Meath next term.

He takes particular pleasure from the fact that Kenny's dressing room contains a number of players who hail from areas that are not exactly known for producing footballers.

"There are not that many Meath players around," said Rogers, who travels to training with fellow countyman Jamie McGrath. There's a heavy Connacht influence in the dressing room too.

"There's no Gaelic medals (for Meath players) but hopefully that changes next year," he added. "Jamie is from Athboy which wouldn't be a stronghold of soccer. Meath isn't a stronghold.

"Bohola (the Mayo home of John Mountney) wouldn't be a stronghold either. There is a great mixture of lads and characters in the group. The gaffer recruits really good lads and the recruitment has been phenomenal.

"He has proved that time and time again. Everyone is pulling in the right direction which is what you need to do to achieve anything."

Dundalk's new owners have been visible throughout the season with chairman Mike Treacy - the representative of equity fund Peak6 - a prominent part of Sunday's celebrations. Rogers asserts that the squad have been heartened by their level of interest.

"It's great to see them as they are not anonymous," he said. "They're at training when they are over.

"They are not over every day, obviously, as they have other things to do but they have a presence and have been over regularly at games and for training sessions.

"It's great for them as this is what they invested in the club for. They wanted the club to be successful."

That mission is only starting.

Irish Independent

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