With the mid-season break coming up, Pundit Arena caught up with Drogheda United captain Mick Daly to talk about the Boynesiders’ season so far, their aim for the remainder of the season and Daly’s personal goals.
The former Manchester City youth player also gave his opinion on what he feels needs to change to aid the development of young players in Ireland and pointed out St. Patrick’s Athletic defender Sean Hoare as one of the best young players in the league.
Drogheda are currently sitting in in 7th place in the league ahead of an important home game against Derry City this Friday, the last match before the mid-season break and Daly says a win will mean that it has been a great first half to the season for the Boynesiders.
“If we can beat Derry on Friday it will have been a great first half to the season. It is a massive game in determining what direction our season is going to take. Get a win and then we will be trying to push on after the break.”
The aim for Drogheda United this season has always been to avoid relegation and Daly stressed that that is still the main objective.
“So far the season has been reasonably successful. Taking into account that we have one of, if not the lowest budget in the league, the team have done well.”
“At the minute, the aim is still to survive this year. Anything that comes after that is a bonus.”
Daly sees his best and most favoured position as a central defensive midfielder but has played primarily at right back this season. However, despite playing in the back four this season, he has already equalled his goalscoring tally from last season.
“I naturally see myself as a central defensive midfielder. I think that’s my best position but I’ll play anywhere if it helps us to win. All I care about is winning so I don’t care how or where I have to play as long as it’s best for the team.”
“I am delighted to have already got a couple of goals. Not bad for a right back! I’m aiming to get 5 or 6 this season.”
Drogheda boss Johnny McDonnell has had to call upon the services of a number of young players so far this season, in Lloyd Buckley, Sam McGowan, Robert O’Reilly and most recently, Adam Whelan.
“Some of the young lads have done very well and have stepped up to help out when needed. Others still need more time and need to work on the physical side of their game outside of training.”
Daly believes that there is a problem in Ireland when it comes to the physical side of the game for young players and thinks that a proper strengthening programme needs to be introduced to further prepare players for senior first team football.
“It’s a big problem within the League of Ireland. We need to get lads at 15 or 16 years of age and put them on proper strengthening programmes so by the time they are 18, they are ready for first team football. But the lads need to buy into it too and put that extra work in!!”
The FAI recently announced the introduction of the new U17 National League, which begins in August and Daly hopes that the introduction of the league will be a step forward but stressed that the players need to want to develop too and pointed out Sean Hoare of St. Patrick’s Athletic as a player who has done just that.
“I hope the U17 league proves to be a step forward but I think young lads need to want to develop too. Looking around the league, at the top young players, the best ones are all in good shape. Sean Hoare from St. Pats is one of them, he’s only a kid but he’s built like a machine. It gives a huge advantage.”
When the U19 league season finishes, it leaves a number of players with the possibility of not playing for a year due to being unable to break into the first team and being too old to compete in the U19 league the following season. The Drogheda captain feels that a reserve league is something that the league needs to help solve that problem.
“I feel that as a league we need a reserve league too. I know that financially it could cost a lot but it’s no good for development having players over 19 and then they might not play a game all season. How are they supposed to be able to progress?”
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena.