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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 16 September, 2019

'I was delighted for my 20th to come in a cup final — I'm 28 and can still get better'

David McMillan scored his 20th goal of the season in Saturday’s EA Sports Cup final during a man of the match performance.

David McMillan celebrates with Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny.
David McMillan celebrates with Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CONFERRING PRAISE ON his man of the match striker, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny remarked that two years ago David McMillan didn’t normally score with his head.

But on Saturday afternoon it was the 28-year-old architect’s blistering headed effort after just five minutes in the EA Sports Cup final which gave the Lilywhites a perfect start on which they built yet another cup final victory.

Michael Duffy’s corner swung in towards the middle of the box was met by the head of McMillan, with Shamrock Rovers captain Simon Madden helpless to prevent it from going in due to the sheer force of the effort.

McMillan gave Dundalk the lead before two more strikes in the final ten minutes from Patrick McEleney and substitute Tommy Stewart capped off a deserved 3-0 victory against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

The goal was McMillan’s 20th of the season in all competitions, with the Dubliner admitting he was happy the strike came in a significant final victory — one which could spell the beginning of a possible cup treble for Dundalk.

“I was delighted for my 20th goal to come in a cup final,” McMillan said speaking to The42 after the game.

“I couldn’t be happier, but we’ve seven or eight important games that we need to win to finish the season out, so hopefully I can keep getting as many as possible and finish the season strong.”

His manager gave the forward his due praise, but in doing so highlighted how much progress he had made since coming to Oriel Park ahead of the 2014 season following disappointing spells at St Pat’s and Sligo Rovers.

“David has really improved elements of his game. Headed finishes… David didn’t score headers two years ago,” Lilywhites boss Kenny joked after his side’s 3-0 win.

“The amount of headed goals he has scored in recent years is a credit to him because he practices and practices.

“It’s an area that he has really improved on. He was always very sharp over the top, getting in behind, with one on one finishes as well as striking the ball on the edge of the box too.

“There has been a big improvement in his game in attacking crosses and we have seen the benefits of that.”

McMillan admits that his increased rate of headed goals has been an area he has improved upon during his time at the club.

The player has scored with his head against all of Drogheda, Limerick and Bohemians already this season, with his crucial goal against BATE Borisov in their Uefa Champions League qualifier last year already etched in the history books.

“A lot of times I didn’t get to attack corners because we have a lot of big players in the box,” he said.

David McMillan celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Chris Shields and Seán Hoare 16/9/2017 David McMillan celebrates giving Dundalk the lead in the EA Sports Cup final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Often times I’ve had to play the dummy role in the box, but it was nice tonight to score and now I’ve had a couple of headers in my last few games. I’m 28 but I’m still learning and can still get better.”

McMillan’s first title at Dundalk was an EA Sports Cup in his debut season. Three years, three league titles, an FAI Cup and a historic Europa League campaign later the player is motivated for that success to continue at Oriel Park.

“This team has been successful over the years and we want to continue that trend,” he said.

“Stephen has got that drive and wants to push us all on to make sure we enjoy these days.

“You enjoy them by winning and hopefully we’ll have another cup final to enjoy. We’ve a tough semi-final to come against Rovers in the FAI Cup. so hopefully we can come through it.

“We would have liked to have won the league and that obviously looks like it won’t happen.

“But if we win two or three trophies we can’t have too many complaints at the end of the year. That said, there’s still a lot of hard work to come before that happens.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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