Ahead of our meeting with UCD on Friday night, we sat down with one of the six former Students in the Lilywhites squad, Greg Sloggett – who celebrates his 26th birthday on Sunday – for this Dundalk FC Patreon Q&A.

How do you look back on last week’s draw with Shelbourne?
GS: The run we’ve been on means we’ve set standards and we don’t want to be drawing games that we feel we can win. The last draw we had before the Shelbourne one was UCD back in May. We sat down the morning after that game and said we had to make sure we were getting wins wherever possible. It was disappointing in Tolka Park but we have a great opportunity to go and put that right against UCD at Oriel Park on Friday night and get another three points on the board.

We’re looking to make it eight straight wins at Oriel Park which would be fantastic…
GS: The home form has been great. Even from the end of last season when the fans came back, it’s been nothing short of a fortress, as they say! You can’t put that down to anything other than the fans being there. We really feel that support and we’re looking forward to seeing what murals they come up with on Friday night!

17 June 2022; Greg Sloggett of Dundalk prepares to take a corner during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Louth. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

After you joined the club in 2020, COVID hit, there was lots of stuff going on in the background, and there were no fans at our games. Do you feel now that you are properly seeing what this club is all about?
GS: Yeah, I think so. After the Shamrock Rovers game, a lot of the staff who were here for the past number of years said that it felt really back to what it was before. I would contest that nothing good happened over the past couple of years but you can feel now that there is more and something is brewing. Long may it continue and, hopefully, we’ll have some silverware to show for it at the end of the season.

As you said, we qualified for the Europa League group stages and won the FAI Cup in 2020 so it wasn’t all bad but having people in the ground, and having that connection, and the fans behind us, makes a huge difference. When the fans came back in last year, there were protests and there was a lot of stuff going on but now everything is channelled towards getting behind the team on a Friday night.
GS: Yeah, it’s tunnel vision now. Everyone is on the same page. People know what’s going on at the club and they know that the one mission here is to bring Dundalk back to the top. There is no ambiguity over that or ulterior motives going on in the background that you would be sceptical of. That allows the fans to galvanise and get behind us and it allows us to galvanise as a team and focus on the job at hand. It’s great and fingers crossed it comes to something at the end of the year.

29 October 2020; Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal in action against Greg Sloggett of Dundalk during the UEFA Europa League Group B match between Arsenal and Dundalk at the Emirates Stadium in London, England. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

From your own point of view, you’ve played in all but one of our 20 games to date. You must be happy to have played such a major part in the team.
GS: It’s going well and I’m really enjoying it. Training every day is tough and rewarding. There is real attention to detail in everything we do each day for the team on a Friday night. I’m really enjoying it. I came here to be successful and while I’ve had some success, it hasn’t felt what it should. I really hope that I can be a driving force in hoping to be successful this year.

Does it help that our head coach and assistant manager were both very good central midfielders in their playing days?
GS: Course it does! They were two extremely good players. Obviously, Stevie knows the history of the club and was an incredible player himself so there are ample opportunities to feed off what he has to say. It’s a really enjoyable environment to work in and play football in.

28 September 2018; Greg Sloggett of UCD prior to the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Semi-Final match between Dundalk and UCD at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Looking ahead to UCD, it would be foolish to look at this game as a gimme.
GS: I think we know all about the calibre of players that they can produce! There’s enough of them here at the club! No, you can’t ever take UCD lightly. They’ve lost Colin Whelan to injury and Liam Kerrigan looks like he’s heading to Italy but in saying that they still produced a good display against Derry City last Friday night. We know that they can come with danger and we will have to lbw ell equipped for that but we also know that if we focus and play to our ability, we have enough about us to win the game and get back on track.

They’ve had a tough season but if you look at the league table, they’re still only three points behind Finn Harps who occupy the playoff spot so it’s not like their season is dead and buried…
GS: No, they’re not down and out by any means and they’ve still been competitive in every game they’ve played. I’ve seen reports about the decisions they’ve had against them. Every club can complain about that but maybe they’ve had some more than others. They’ll be coming here hungry and cowing that they picked up a point against us at Belfield so we need to dismantle their gameplay and go and win the game.