Gaynor hopes to “repay” club
Dundalk winger Ross Gaynor is hoping to “repay” manager Ian Foster and the club for the faith they have shown in him, and he has set an ambitious target of doubling last season’s haul of eight goals in the year ahead. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder was Foster’s second confirmed signing for the 2011 campaign when he put pen to paper on a new one-year deal on 8 October, joining fellow winger Daniel Kearns who had committed his immediate future three days earlier. And with Jason Byrne and Mark Quigley subsequently added, Gaynor is excited by Dundalk’s potential attacking prowess this season.
The Lilywhites began pre-season training on Monday morning with a 14-man squad reporting for duty this week, and after Thursday’s session Gaynor spoke exclusively to dundalkfc.com. “The training has been tough so far, but everybody has to do it,” the Ardee native, who made 41 competitive appearances in 2010, said. “We’ve got a very small squad so we’re just waiting to see what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks. The running has been tough, but looking ahead to this year it’s exciting times, especially with the boys that we’ve brought in. The standard has gone up a lot and it’s just good to be a part of it. I had a hard pre-season with Drogheda last year; I literally missed all of Dundalk’s pre-season but the lads said it was tough as well. A good pre-season prepares you for the tough year ahead, especially with the way the teams are now – it’s going to be very competitive. It’s good to get a good base, and I have no doubt the work we’re doing at the minute will pay off.”
Last term, Gaynor was originally due to sign permanently for Drogheda United, having gone on loan there from Sporting Fingal midway through the 2009 campaign. However, in early February he arrived at Oriel Park and made the switch across the Louth divide. This time around, it was a much smoother process as he tied up his future three weeks before the season’s end. “I was never going anywhere,” he stated. “As soon as I was offered a deal I signed straight away because I’m living here in Dundalk now and I’m settled. It’s only two minutes away from my parents’ home, so it’s good. I loved it here last year. It was the most goals I’ve scored in a season and the most assists I’ve had, so I’ll be trying to double that this year and hopefully I can. Hopefully, I get a good run in the team and carry on where I left off last year. Hopefully, I will do very well for the club because I appreciate the manager and the club re-signing me and I’ll try my best to repay the favour.”
Dundalk return to competitive action when they make their debut in the Setanta Sports Cup against Linfield on Saint Valentine’s Day, a tournament which Gaynor is relishing. “It’s a whole new thing for me; I’ve never played in anything like it before,” he said. “I’ve never played up the north so it’s going to be exciting, especially in the heart of Belfast. It will be against a very strong team, and it’s going to be a completely different challenge than playing the likes of Bohemians. It’s going to be a very good experience and one that I’d love to be a part of. My granddad has been on about the last meeting. I think there’s a lot of hype about it, but I think the game and times have moved on now. Hopefully, it will be a good game.” That will be just a taster for the opening league fixture which has pitted the Lilywhites against champions Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium. “You might as well get the tough ones out of the way,” Ross said when looking ahead to the 4 March meeting. “We battered them early on last season. But they’ll have a good few new players so they’ll probably need some time to settle in. I think we’ll be the same. It’s a great game to look forward to.”
This will be Gaynor’s first full season playing alongside Kearns, who joined Dundalk back in August after being released by West Ham United three months earlier, and he is looking forward to renewing forces with his Republic of Ireland U23 teammate. “As long as we get a strong defence I think our attacking players can cause any team in this league problems,” he said. “I think you’ll see that in the league; I think we’ll score a lot of goals, and hopefully if we bring in the right defenders I think we’ll be able to keep clean sheets. We have Peter Cherrie who is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. We just need to build a strong defence, and if we do that I think it will be exciting. It’s a pleasure to have Danny in the squad. He’s such a very good player. And now with Quigs coming in; I’ve played with Quigs before (at Millwall), and he’s exactly the same as Danny; he does the same kinds of tricks. And Jason Byrne, if you put it anywhere in the box, he’ll score a goal. We’re going to be unbelievable going forward; there are going to be so many options. We’ve got Marzey (Stephen Maher) to come back as well, so it’s just going to be brilliant.”
After a sixth-placed finish last year, Gaynor admits that he would be content with progression up the table in 2011, and he has set his sights on claiming a European spot, while he has revealed that he fancies Sligo Rovers for a first league title since 1977. “As long as we keep on improving year on year, I’ll be happy,” he said. “Obviously, I can’t really say that we’re going to be going for the title. After our start to last season we were considered as title contenders. I’d rather not start off so great this time around, and just gradually build throughout the season and hopefully we can finish strong. With the players that we have now I think we can push maybe for Europe again. That’s the objective.” When asked if he makes Shamrock Rovers favourites to retain their crown, Gaynor concluded: “I fancy Sligo, personally. I’d rather see Sligo win it because they play lovely football. Our games with them have all been very good games. You’ll have ourselves, Sligo and Sporting Fingal trying to play the better football, so hopefully that will earn rewards.”