December 29th 2019. Millwall vs Brentford at The Den.
If ever a passage of play perfectly epitomised what Lions midfielder Jayson Molumby’s game was all about, it came after just eight minutes of December’s London derby.
As the sleek and stylish visitors attempted to, as they so frequently do, pass the ball out from the back, they were met by the barrelling force of Millwall’s number 16 whose almost barbaric one man press caused havoc in the Brentford defence.
Molumby encouraged his teammates to join him in his maniacal endeavour but the truth is he never really needed them. By the time the ball made it’s way to goalkeeper David Raya, all it took was the hint of a heavy first touch – Molumby had him.
The ball fell to his compatriot Aiden O’Brien. 1-0 Milwall.
🏅 I'm sure you all know where the #MondayMotivation comes from today:
— Millwall FC (@MillwallFC) December 30, 2019
“That’s just me doing my job,” laughed Molumby when quizzed on the goal. “My job is to win the ball back and hopefully give it to players like Aiden who have that finishing touch.”
Understandably, the Irish U21 captain’s work for the goal and overall performance in the Brentford win, drew rave reviews from Millwall fans who have taken wonderfully to Molumby since his arrival at The Den in August.
So far, it has been a perfect fit for the 20-year-old in his first full season in senior football, with Molumby’s dynamism in the middle of the park and passion in the way he plays a recipe for success at a club like Millwall.
“(The club has) similar backgrounds and similar attributes to what I have as a player,” Molumby told Pundit Arena.
“The fans themselves are hard, working-class people and they take a lot of pride in their football and that’s their go-to. It’s a similar background to what I had growing up. Normal working people from normal working families.
“I think my attitude and the way I play has rubbed off on the fans really well. The way I play is all-in so that’s suited me very well.”
The symbiotic relationship that has developed between Molumby and the club may be blossoming but there were initial challenges.
It’s easy to forget looking at him now, but not so long ago the 20-year-old missed almost a year and a half of his career due to a series of concurrent knee injuries and he admitted that when he first arrived at Millwall, on-loan from Brighton, the level of intensity was a strain on his body.
“It was my body that wasn’t really ready for it at the start more so. I didn’t really have much of a pre-season under my belt because I was injured so that played a part in it.
“The first few games were quite tough, trying to get 90 minutes in having never really experienced that intensity and at that level.
“Especially at Millwall, where you’re expected to go for 90 minutes at a very high level, that’s just the way the club is. I found it difficult to begin with but I feel really good now. My body has taken to it well.”
Molumby has played the full 90 minutes in his last ten league games for The Lions and has only been on the losing side once during that spell.
The 20-year-old has developed a fruitful partnership with fellow Irish man Shaun Williams in the centre of the Millwall midfield and Molumby credits Williams as a huge influence on how well he has settled at the club.
“It’s been the biggest influence, “he said.
“Shaun Williams, especially being a midfielder, coming in he’s looked after me from day one and I’ve learned a lot off him. He’s 33 and he’s had a really good career.
“He’s played at international level for Ireland. You look up to people like that. When they take to you and look after you, you’re buzzing. There’s also Aiden (O’Brien) and Pearcey (Alex Pearce) both played for Ireland too and are really good guys. They looked after me and welcomed me to the club too.”
Playing and impressing regularly in an in-form Millwall side, questions inevitably turn towards March and Ireland’s crucial Euro 2020 playoff against Slovakia.
Molumby has been a stalwart of Stephen Kenny’s U21 side, captaining perhaps the most talented team the country has ever seen at that level, but has yet to make his senior bow.
The Cappoquinn native isn’t expectant but hopeful and feels that if he is included come March, he could bring something a little different to Mick McCarthy’s side.
“I want to be in and around the squad 100%. I’m not too sure if I’ll be in contention after how things went with the last squad but hopefully.
“I feel like I’m playing well and that I’d be able to bring something different if I was in the Irish team. That’s the biggest thing for me, it’s my dream to play for Ireland.”
“It would mean everything to me but I just need to take it day by day and make sure that I keep playing. March is still a long way away.”
Molumby would indeed bring an energy and a bite to the Irish midfield if and when he wins his first senior cap and he credits the likes of Scott Brown, Roy Keane and Steven Gerrard (whose style of play he has often been compared to) as huge influences on his game.
In his first full season in senior football, Molumby has come a long way.
Those who watch Ireland’s U21 side on a regular basis have been aware for a while of his talents and with the likes of Troy Parrott and Aaron Connolly making the step up to the full Irish squad calls for his inclusion have been understandable.
Molumby though, is extremely self-aware. He knows that he has plenty of areas of his game to work on, and despite admitting that at the start of the season he wouldn’t have been ready, he feels that given a chance with the Boys in Green, he’d have the tools to step up.
“Yeah I feel like I’ve learned a lot about football this season. I’d be ready if the international call-up came. Maybe at the start of this season if I was called up to the squad I don’t think I would’ve been ready for that step up.
“Now though I have appearances under my belt and I feel like I understand football a lot more and what I need to do in my job. I feel like I’d definitely be ready if I was given a chance but I just need to keep working hard.
“I still have a lot I need to work on and a lot I need to improve on as a player. I’m not stupid, I know there are still a lot of areas I want to improve in and get better in.”