Supersubs Mountney and Carr proving their worth
The value of players such as Dundalk's John Mountney and Shamrock Rovers' Daniel Carr is incalculable insofar as they are unselfish team players who can fill a number of roles. This is vital in times of emergency caused by injuries or suspensions and it is emphasised by the impact they can make when introduced in European competition.
Ten days ago, the Hoops were heading out of the Europa League qualifiers when Carr was brought on with 16 minutes to go. In the short time at his disposal, he wreaked havoc with the Brann defence, and was instrumental in setting in motion the equalising and match-winning moves that saw Rovers over the line.
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Last Wednesday, it was Mountney's turn to grab a share of the limelight when Dundalk boss Vinny Perth turned to him in the 68th minute. The Lilywhites were 1-0 down and needed a lift. Mountney's link-up with attacking right-back Sean Gannon did just that, energising the home side as they grabbed a deserved equaliser and came so close to winning the game after some beautiful passing moves down the right flank.
"We've been analysing Qarabag for the last while," said Mountney, "and it's hard then to get the balance right between respecting them and trying to go out and get a result. But now we know we can be a threat, and hopefully we'll take our chances over there (Baku) when they come."
On his role as a supersub, he is modesty personified: "The standard in the club is so high at present that I'm lucky to be involved at all. Once I'm involved I'm happy. However, no one wants to be on the bench. It's frustrating, but there's a togetherness at the club, and I know it's for the team."
With six important goals in 10 starts, and an involvement in all but five of Dundalk's League games, Mountney has been vital in their rise to the top of the table, especially after the club suffered a midfield injury crisis early on, with Robbie Benson, Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields all out of action at the same time. He underlined his importance again yesterday against St Pat's.
Among other things, he is blessed with a powerful engine. "As a young lad I was athletic, and I'm lucky to have that side to me," he explained. "I competed in the Community Games and in schools cross-country, but nothing out of the normal. I found running tough mentally, and it was easier when a football was thrown in!"
He credits coach John Gill with the increase in his goalscoring this season. "He told me that if I gambled on going forward for Michael Duffy's crosses from the left wing, I'd be surprised how many goals I'd score. He was right. All my goals were very similar, getting on the end of crosses from the left." Hopefully he has reserved one for Baku on Wednesday.
Carr's reward for his supersub display against Brann was promotion to the starting XI against Apollon last Thursday, and he proved manager Stephen Bradley's faith in him was well-founded with his second European goal, an equaliser after the Hoops had conceded early, like Dundalk the previous night.
Goals have been about the only thing missing from Carr's game, but last week was a good one, with two goals in the 7-0 thrashing of UCD last Sunday presaging his tap-in against Apollon. To be fair, most of his games have been played on the wing rather than the centre-forward role he filled last week.
Carr thinks a lot about his game and is grateful to Darren Dillon, the club's strength and conditioning coach, for organising a programme tailored to his needs - speed and endurance. "I pride myself on being able to win headers, having good pace and the agility to beat players, and I always try to rely on my speed, strength and touch."
While he played twice in the Championship with Huddersfield, he says: "When I came to Rovers was the first time I became a consistent starter and that has helped me grow up as a person, while Glenn (Cronin) and the gaffer have improved my game. The gaffer believes in hard work before ability, so we pride ourselves on not letting our opponents out-work us."
Like Mountney, Carr says he would play anywhere Bradley asked him to, "even centre-back or right-back", but after Thursday's major contribution to the 2-1 defeat of Apollon, he can expect more calls to fill the lone striker role. It's just as well he has a fondness for hard work.
Sunday Indo Sport