LOI Arena is the new podcast about the League of Ireland and Irish football from Con Murphy, Conan Byrne and Pundit Arena.
On the seventh episode of LOI Arena, Jamie McGrath talked all about his incredible season for St Mirren, League of Ireland memories and the impact Gary Rogers had on his career at Dundalk.
This week’s guest was former St Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk midfielder Jamie McGrath. McGrath has enjoyed an incredible season for St Mirren under Waterford man Jim Goodwin, where he has scored sixteen goals in all competitions.
The Meath midfielder has always been an impressive technical player but by adding goals to his game, he has gone on to another level this season. McGrath’s stand-out performances have attracted interest from bigger clubs in England and Scotland and his manager even believes he is worthy of an international call-up.
Jamie McGrath on the decision to leave Dundalk for St Mirren.
“I think I always wanted to give overseas football a try, whether it be Scotland or England or wherever,” McGrath said on LOI Arena.
“I just felt it was the perfect time to move on. I was coming to the end of my contract with Dundalk and we were just off the back of winning four out of the five trophies there to be won so I thought that it would be a great opportunity to try something new.
“I was out of contract, there was a few bits and pieces but until there’s an actual offer on the table it’s all hearsay and that. So yeah I think at the time there was a few offers on the table but from speaking to the gaffer [Jim Goodwin], he just really sold it to me.”
St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin is no stranger to Irish football as a Waterford man and McGrath is one of five Irish players at the football club. McGrath says that his manager’s help and understanding upon his arrival played a big role in adapting comfortably to his new surroundings.
“He just knew where I was coming from. He knows the league inside out. He’d watched me a good few times for Dundalk and he just said ‘it would be a perfect place for you to come over,’ and he said ‘hopefully you can use it as a stepping stone onto greater things.’ I was so happy to come to the club.”
“I got a tour when I first came over before I signed and the Gaffer showed me around and stuff and the training ground was brilliant as well. It ticked all the boxes – the big thing was just to keep on playing regularly, I didn’t want to sit on the bench and waste away a few years of my career. Thankfully so far it’s paid off.”
Jamie McGrath on his excellent form for St Mirren.
“It’s not been a secret that I’ve always wanted to add more goals. Especially playing as an attacking midfielder, you’re always judged on your goals and assists.
“No matter how well you play, at the end of the day, it comes down to that. You can look good on the ball and all that sort of stuff but yeah it’s something I’ve been working on.
“Trying to, not just look for that pass, but to get myself into better areas to give myself a better chance to score. You can work on finishing all day, that’s what I’ve been doing, but if you’re not going to actually shoot or you’re not going to get into the right position to take it – it may as well be pointless.
“I’ve been doing a lot of self-analysis, I’ve been looking at my video clips seeing how I can do better. I’ve been working with a few people on that aspect as well so there’s been a lot of hours going in off the pitch to see if I can try and get myself in better positions, get better opportunities. Like you said, penos, they do help but I find myself playing in general I’m getting more strikes away, I’m getting more opportunities. That’s something I had to work on so luckily enough it’s paying off.”
Jamie McGrath on the influence of Gary Rogers on his career.
Another Meath man who cut out a fine League of Ireland career for himself was Gary Rogers. The recently retired goalkeeper played no less than 583 times for various Irish clubs including Dundalk and was a massive help to Jamie McGrath when he first moved to Oriel Park.
“I think growing up in the local area he was kind of the man. He was ‘Mr League of Ireland’, he has played League of Ireland. Not many from around where I’m from have done that so obviously growing up as a lover of football you kind of look up to him.
“I didn’t know him until I turned professional and it’s just… he was always there always giving out the trophies at the awards. He was just someone you looked up to because he was doing so well and from the local area – he was a local hero.
“So when I finally got to meet him and stuff like that it wasn’t a let down anyway. He’s been brilliant to me ever since I signed for Dundalk. I think on the first day he offered to bring me to and from training – he’d seen that I didn’t drive so that took a huge weight off my parents and stuff like that.
“Bringing me up for extra gym sessions if I need it. Obviously, he’s been there done that. He’s seen everything. He was in my ear for that first year at Dundalk constantly giving me advice. How you should do things, how you should approach matches. Just different tips that you’d only pick up from someone that you respect and someone who has done it all in the league.
“I was very lucky to have him and he made me settle in at Dundalk a lot easier and he still is brilliant to me to this day. He still texts me and he’s keeping an eye as well. He’s a family friend now. I know all his children well now and his wife. He’s a top man.”
LOI Arena is the new home for great League of Ireland discussion. Each week Con and Conan will take to the mic to analyse the highs and lows from the Greatest League in the World. The lads are joined by great guests each week who share a passion for all things LOI and Irish Football.
The podcast is part of a new membership offering from Pundit Arena that focuses on Irish soccer fans for just €3.99 per month, less than a euro per week.
Fans can sign up and be in with a chance of winning a free Watch LOI or LOI TV pass visit https://punditarena.com/loiarena.