Kelly delight at vital goal in first league start
The Dalymount Park floodlights had long since dimmed, but Georgie Kelly was still beaming as he emerged from the away dressing room late last night.
Kelly marked his first league start for Dundalk – his first in the Premier Division for any club – with the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Bohemians that propelled the Lilywhites to the top of the league table.
In for the suspended Patrick Hoban, Kelly picked up the ball on 22 minutes and, 12 yards out and with his back to goal, turned swiftly before firing low past goalkeeper James Talbot.
Whilst the finish belied any nerves the Donegal native may have felt before the game, it was clear afterwards how much the goal meant.
“Relieved – I think that’s the word I would use to describe my feelings,” Kelly told dundalkfc.com after the game. “Tonight was a big change for me – a big crowd, one of the biggest games of my life – so to get the goal was a great relief. I’m delighted.
“I’ve had to be patient, with Pat playing so well. These chances don’t come along that often, so building up to the game I knew that getting this chance, I had to make an impact. Thank God I got the goal. Hopefully it kicked us on to get the win.”
Kelly’s third goal of the season – and fifth for Dundalk in total – was his most important, although the striker admits to not remembering much about it, as he was swept away in a ‘special’ moment.
“I can’t really remember what happened. I think Mickey [Duffy] must have cut inside two or three players and someone tackled him and it just fell for me. I turned and hit it and I didn’t even see where it went in, but thank God it did.
“In front of the Dundalk supporters too, it was a special moment for me. I can’t even remember how I celebrated. It’s all a bit of a blur, but it was a great feeling.”
The goal was significant not just for Kelly but for the club as a whole as, for the first time this season, Dundalk now sit on top of the SSE Airtricity League table.
After two consecutive league defeats in early April, the Lilywhites trailed Shamrock Rovers by 13 points with two games in hand. Now, just six games and 28 days later, the champions sit on top on goal difference having played the same number of matches.
“It was only a few weeks ago that we were 13 points behind,” said Kelly. “So to cut that margin down so quickly and go on the run of form we’ve went on has been incredible.
“Hopefully now we can build on it again next week and create a gap between us and Rovers. We won’t be looking at the table though and thinking ‘we’re top of the league’. We’ll just want to kick on and keep winning games.”
Next up is a trip to Turners Cross next Friday to face a rejuvenated Cork City. The Leesiders have won their first two games under interim manager John Cotter and Kelly expects a stiff test to await the league leaders.
“That will be one of the toughest games this season. They’ve had a bit of revival of life in their squad now with the new manager and the change of things.
“Away to Cork will be a tough, tough game for us, so hopefully we can get the three points.”