Dundalk seal Ward deal
Dundalk FC has completed the signing of 20-year-old versatile winger Keith Ward, who put pen to paper on a one-year contract at Oriel Park on Tuesday afternoon. And shortly after completing the deal, which is subject to FAI clearance, he admitted that the Lilywhites’ offer “stood out” from the rest. Ward joined his new teammates on Monday when Dundalk began pre-season training, and following his second session the former UCD youngster inked a contract to bring Ian Foster’s squad to 14. And Foster has added his reaction, stating his “delight” with the acquisition of a player who he was highly impressed with when UCD defeated Dundalk 3-1 in Dublin last May.
“We’re delighted to bring Keith in,” Foster told dundalkfc.com. “Keith is someone that we agreed a contract with in early December. He was actually supposed to sign at the same time as Mark Quigley and Jason Byrne but he had work commitments and obviously then with the weather as well it was unfortunate that we couldn’t get it done at that time. He has been in the last two days of pre-season, everything was agreed and he has put pen to paper today. Keith is the type of player that we like. He’s very attack minded, he’s got great feet, great ability, he’s young, enthusiastic and he’s got great potential, and hopefully we’re going to see that potential this year. I see Keith as a midfield player. I know people are crying out for defenders, but this was agreed, as I say, a number of weeks ago. It doesn’t mean that we’re not looking defensively. Obviously, we are, but at the same time we’re delighted to bring Keith in as an extra body in midfield, which is a position that we need to fill as well.”
Ward, who also previously played for Bohemians, in his first season in the top flight with UCD last year scored a vital hat-trick against Galway United at Terryland Park back in October to as good as secure the Students’ Premier Division status. That came just a week after a dramatic late curling free-kick which snatched a 3-2 win over Shamrock Rovers at the UCD Bowl. “I saw Keith on the FÁS courses when he was a young lad when I was going through my coaching badges and I was impressed with him then,” Foster explained. “I think for anyone who went to the game at Belfield last year when we lost 3-1, they will know that Keith was exceptional. He destroyed us in the centre of midfield and we couldn’t live with him. I think my mind was made up that day that if we had a chance of being in the market for Keith Ward then we’d try to get him, and we’re delighted to do so. Something that we always need are players that are versatile, and Keith is that.”
“I’m absolutely delighted to be on board,” Ward told dundalkfc.com shortly after signing. “There are some great players in this team, especially forward players. I want to work really hard to get into the team, and if I do well I’ll be looking to play as much as I can. UCD was my first club in the League of Ireland and I absolutely loved it there. I was there for three years, won the First Division and then last year was my first year in the Premier Division, where I want to play. I loved it last year. Ian spoke to me before Christmas and let me know that the offer was there if I wanted it. I sat down over Christmas and had talks with UCD, but it’s a full-time setup here and I obviously want to play at a bigger and better club. I had one or two offers but Dundalk stood out the most. I’m living in Swords, beside the airport, so it’s handy enough to get down as well. I’m buzzing for the start of the season. Pre-season is tough so far, it’s taking its toll, so I’m looking forward to the games.”