When Ross Munro picked up an injury in the warm-up before last Friday night’s game against Shelbourne at Tolka Park, Dundalk FC manager Jon Daly had no hesitation in drafting 19-year-old goalkeeper Sean Molloy into the starting XI for his League of Ireland debut. The young Dubliner spoke to Gavin McLaughlin about the experience.

GMCL: Sean, it wasn’t the result we wanted, but from a personal point of view, I’m sure it was a proud moment to make your league debut for the club at Tolka Park on Friday night.
SM: Yeah, on a personal one, it was great to finally get that first pro start in the league and it was a great experience. I don’t think I could have made it in a better place, away to the league leaders and the standard bearers. I was buzzing to get the start but was disappointed not to leave with the three points. We’ve got Sligo on Thursday night to set that right.

GMCL: Ross Munro got injured in the warm-up. Did that help you in the sense that you weren’t sort of thinking about it too long? I know you were thrown in at the deep end but you probably don’t have much time to let the nerves build up…
SM: Yeah, Ross sort of picked up the injury during the week, so I prepared myself the whole week. I knew that if something happened on Friday, I was ready to step in and that’s how it had to be. When the gaffer gave me the shout, I was buzzing for it. I was a bit nervous in the warm-up but once I went in to get the kit on and I came out in the tunnel, I was ready to go.

GMCL: It must be a huge vote of confidence that Jon gave you a start and threw you in, especially when you consider that Peter Cherrie is back at the club.
SM: Yeah, I’m very grateful. Peter has come back and he’s a great ‘keeper. He’s been here before and he’s got unbelievable ability. He’ll say that he can’t move but he definitely can so when the gaffer gave me the nod, I was beyond grateful and so happy that he was able to put me in and he has that trust in me, at the age of 19, that I’m able to go in and do a job for the team.

GMCL: You were annoyed about conceding a goal because, other than that, you didn’t have a save to make. Shelbourne didn’t have any shots on target bar that…
SM: Yeah exactly. I’m not just annoyed for myself, I’m annoyed for the team. It was our third game in a week and we still shut them out for so long. With all the possession they had, they never really threatened us and I didn’t think that we were actually under any sort of threat. They just kind of held the ball and we sat back, which was fine. We knew we could have caught them on the break or if we got a good chance, we were able to take it. They had one proper opportunity and they took it which is what league leaders do but we should have done a bit better.

GMCL: How did you feel out there? You didn’t look flustered and you looked nice and calm. You seem to have that sort of temperament about you where you just take everything in your stride.
SM: From when I started playing in the League of Ireland academies, that’s what you want to do. You want to get into the first team, especially at a young age.
You see all these young footballers; Jude Bellingham, who’s 20, and going to be the star man for England in the Euros this summer and winning the Champions League. That’s what I want. I want to be on the biggest stage, playing with the best players and that’s what I’m doing now. I’m playing in the best league in the country, with the best players, and at one of the biggest clubs. So I was just really happy, really proud and just grateful to take it all in.
Daryl Horgan was saying to me in the dressing room before to enjoy it because you only make your debut once. It just came to me then when I got the shout. I was saying to myself: ‘Look, this is what I’ve been training for. The last six, or seven years, have been leading up to this, so grab it with both hands and I thought I did alright.

GMCL: I’m sure for your family, who’ve been bringing you up and down from Dublin over the past few years, it was the payoff for them as well…
SM: Yeah, my mam was delighted. Back in January, I wasn’t going to come back playing football but I got the text to come in for pre-season. I let her know and she practically bet me into coming in and doing it so I was buzzing for her! I was buzzing for myself obviously but to go home and see the big smile on her face because something that seemed so far away at one point had finally just happened. I was delighted.

GMCL: What was your weekend like? Was the phone hopping?
SM: I try to stay away from that. I just relaxed and stayed with my family. On Friday after the game, I went home, gave my Ma a big hug and then I was just with my mates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was buzzing with the debut but I’m still keeping it calm and keeping it relaxed and I’m not getting ahead of myself.

GMCL: We don’t know the situation with Ross’s injury yet, but if he doesn’t make it for Thursday night it’d be nice to make your first start at Oriel Park…
SM: Yeah, 100 per cent, in front of our great home fans. That’s what you dream of, playing in front of crowds at a packed Oriel Park. I’d be buzzing to play against Sligo if I get the shout and, like last week, I’ll prepare as if I am going to play but, if not, I’ll be happy for Ross to come back in and hopefully keep that eighth clean sheet.