Record-breaking Rogers hopes for more to come
Friday’s 2-0 win over Bohemians marked a positive night for Dundalk players, management and supporters alike, but for Gary Rogers the game had an extra significance.
The Lilywhites goalkeeper made his 544th League of Ireland appearance at Dalymount Park – a record for a ‘keeper and one which placed him fourth on the all-time league list.
To top it off, he kept a clean sheet and Dundalk went top of the table for the first time this season, which put him in good spirits when dundalkfc.com caught up with him after the game.
“Yeah, I suppose it was a good night,” Rogers said smiling. “544 is a lot of games. I’m just grateful I could play so many and hopefully I’ll have a good few more to come.
“But tonight was all about getting that win. We’re obviously delighted. To come to Dalymount and get three points is a good result.”
A first-half goal from Georgie Kelly saw Dundalk lead at the break and, after Chris Shields missed a second-half penalty before Sean Hoare settled the tie with just over 10 minutes to go, Rogers felt the Lilywhites were good value for the win.
“Bohs had a good opportunity in the first half which might have changed the game, but all in all I thought we did quite well,” said the Navan native. “Georgie’s goal gave us the platform at half-time to go and win the game and I thought we were very good in the second half.”
The opportunity Rogers modestly referred to saw him make a smart save from Bohs’ rising star Danny Mandroiu as half-time approached. With the score at 1-0, it was a crucial moment in the game and one that Rogers was naturally pleased with.
“It was one of those when it’s cut back like that, you’re just trying to react,” he said. “I was in a good position as I thought he might try to get it in there, because other bodies are moving the opposite way. It all happens pretty quickly, you just throw yourself at it and get a hand on it, thankfully.”
The save went a long way towards Rogers’ eighth clean sheet of the season and, whilst he’s lost count of how many he has in 544 games, he’s still enjoying them as much as at any time in a career spanning two decades.
“You appreciate being able to play at this level more, the longer your career goes on,” he reflected. “I’m enjoying my football and trying to prolong my career. I’ll be looking after myself to the best of my ability to try and keep playing as long as I can.”
Having overtaken Dundalk legend Alan O’Neill on Friday, Rogers now stands behind only Peter Hutton (545), Owen Heary (565) and Al Finucane (634) in the all-time list and, with no intention of hanging up the gloves soon, it’s a record he’s got one eye on.
“I’d be hopeful of playing a few more seasons,” said the 37-year-old. “In fairness to Al, he’s racked up some number there and it’s going to take a bit of beating, but you’ve got to aim for that.
“As long as I can stay injury free and keep playing well, I’ve got a shout, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Before any further personal milestones, Rogers is hoping to secure more silverware in a Dundalk squad that now sits on top of the SSE Airtricity League table for the first time this season but, as the most senior member of the squad, he knows only too well that the real work only begins here.
“Obviously it’s a good position to be. Now the challenge is to stay there and I think this group has been good at doing that in the past,” Rogers added.
“It’s in our control. We just need to keep performing week in and week out. There’s a long way to go in the season yet and, with only 16 games gone, there’s plenty of twists and turns to come.
“Hopefully we can maintain the form we’ve started to show and keep the ball rolling.”