Frustrated Bolger “Praying” for Final Relief
Dundalk FC midfielder Greg Bolger cut a frustrated figure as he admitted he “couldn’t put into words” how difficult it has been to watch from the stands for the past month as he recovers from a grade two strain to his thigh muscle. The 22-year-old has made just six starts for his new club since signing in February, and has not appeared since the defeat by Saint Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on 25 March. But now he is “praying” for a Setanta Sports Cup final return to make up for his recent injury hell.
Having switched from UCD to Sporting Fingal during the winter, Bolger made his way to Oriel Park 11 weeks ago and made his bow four days later in Dundalk’s debut in the cross-border competition, which ended in an unforgettable 5-3 win over Linfield at Windsor Park on Saint Valentine’s Night. A dream start for the Wexford-born boy, but having missed the last seven games, he says it has been a ‘tough’, though ‘enjoyable’, start to life at the border venue, and he went on to praise the club’s supporters. “I couldn’t put it into words,” Greg told dundalkfc.com when asked how frustrating it has been sitting on the sidelines.
Playing a part
“Going to every game and meeting the lads, and even beforehand in the dressing room, telling them ‘best of luck’ and all of that, it has been very tough,” he added. “When they’re going out on the field and I’m going up to the stand, it’s not nice at all. Basically since I’ve got here, it has been tough. I want to get onto the pitch now and show the fans, the players and the manager what I’m about.” And he admits the side’s run to the Setanta decider has made it even more annoying. “I played the second leg against Glentoran and then going up to watch the Cliftonville game was tough,” he said. “But I’ve played in the two games against Linfield and one against Glentoran, so I still feel I’ve been part of this competition. It has been difficult missing the other games, but hopefully I can get back in time for the final.”
Speaking on how his injury is coming along, Bolger explained his recovery programme. “I was basically in the gym and getting treatment off Paul Cheshire,” the 2009 First Division title winner said. “I was getting treatment for the first two weeks and then going into a bit of light weights and a light bit of jogging, different lunges and squats. It’s getting better now, I’m lifting properly. Striking the ball is the thing. That was the thing before. I could run before but it was just basically striking the ball, so we’ll see how it goes in the next week or so. It’s coming on. It has been four weeks now, and prior to that it was probably three weeks up to the St. Pat’s game, when it happened. It had been at me. Hopefully, I can get ready for this final now. I haven’t kicked a ball yet. I have been doing a lot of rehab, a lot of running over the last week or so and I’ve been pain free, so I’m hoping now next week I’ll start kicking a ball and see what happens.”
Asked had he had any chance of making the 14 May final at Tallaght Stadium, Greg added: “That’s the aim. I’ll just see how it goes and see how it reacts when I strike a ball. If I’m not comfortable striking a ball going into the final or coming near it, I wouldn’t make myself available. I have two weeks basically, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m praying because I want to play in it, or even just be involved. If I’m OK, my fitness and sharpness might not help me. It would be seven weeks to the day nearly that I’m out without any football, so maybe I can get on or be involved. We’ll see what the Gaffer thinks, but it’s basically down to if I’m fit or not.” Bolger is one of five players out injured at the moment, meaning Ian Foster’s senior squad is down to just 14 players. But the young midfielder admits: “The dressing room hasn’t changed. Mark Quigley and Jason Byrne keep the dressing room going.
“Everything is good,” he added. “It has been tough on bodies with a lot of players playing a lot of games, whereas if we had more bodies they might have got a rest. The mood is good. I’m enjoying it, coming into training, all the boys are good lads, and the Gaffer and Darius are good as well. I just want to get on the field now. The club itself is great. Training is good, even though I haven’t done a lot of it! It’s all good. The fans are great. I’ve been at UCD where you haven’t got many fans, so coming from there, you appreciate it more, getting good crowds. I’m enjoying it. The home games against Linfield and Glentoran, I really enjoyed, the noise the fans made. It’s something new to me, and I’m really enjoying it.”