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'When I retired, Banty was on to me within the 24 hours' - Dundalk legend joins Monaghan setup

Gary Rogers on his decision to become Monaghan GAA’s goalkeeper coach.

Gary Rogers' last game for Dundalk was a Europa League clash against Arsenal.
Gary Rogers' last game for Dundalk was a Europa League clash against Arsenal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IT DIDN’T take long for Gary Rogers to get back involved in sport, after the Dundalk legend announced his League of Ireland retirement last month.

The 39-year-old has been added the Monaghan senior football backroom team and it continues the Navan native’s long-term affiliation with GAA.

He helped club team St Ultan’s win a junior county title while also having a short stint on the Meath senior panel as a youngster, before opting to pursue a career in professional soccer.

He still had time to serve as a goalkeeper coach for Cavan, Meath and Westmeath during this period, while he is now once again back in GAA, after Monaghan boss Séamus McEnaney contacted him,

“When I retired, Banty was on to me within the 24 hours, just asking me would I come up,” he tells The42. “I’d been up with Banty before when he was with Meath for a short period, so I would have known him from then, and he was keen to get me back involved with Monaghan.”

While not his first stint as a GAA goalkeeping coach, Rogers believes this one will be somewhat different from the others.

“With Dundalk, it wouldn’t have been as focused. I would only have done one session a week, whereas I’ll [now] be doing a couple and taking it from there. So there will be more time put into it, given that I’ve got more time.”

On the challenges of adapting to a different sport, he adds: “With a goalkeeping coach in the GAA, there are no qualifications for it. So you have to look at your soccer license or your soccer coaches to come in, in order to coach the technicalities of goalkeeping.

“I did my Uefa A license and I’ve also played Gaelic football myself at intercounty level and stuff like that.

“I suppose I’m steeped in GAA. Where I am from, it’s all GAA really rather than football, so I’ve plenty of experience in that department.”

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Indeed, Rogers comes from a family with a considerable sporting background. His father played for Meath juniors, while his great-grandfather represented the senior team.

He admits GAA rather than soccer was “my preference” growing up, and it was as a centre forward rather than in goals that he established himself as a promising young player in the sport.

“Gaelic football would have been my number one sport growing up, just given the proximity. I live right beside the football pitch, I’m in Meath and it’s a predominantly GAA area. But I got the opportunity to play in the First Division, had a good run with Drogheda and got a call in to the Irish U21s. It changed quite quickly for me and I became more focused on my soccer career.”

One man Rogers is looking forward to working with is Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan, and he says their paths have crossed already.

“I’ve seen lots of Rory over the years. I would have seen him [on the opposition], I used to coach at Cavan for four years. I saw Rory at close-hand. He’s been a terrific goalkeeper, an integral part of the Monaghan team. We’ll be hopeful that he can keep that consistency in his performances going and have another big year.”

Rogers says it was not necessarily his intention to return to GAA following the end of his soccer career, nonetheless when the opportunity arose, he could not resist.

“Banty’s a persuasive man, he’d been ringing me over the Christmas period. I had a think about it over Christmas and I was keen to get back involved in sport in some capacity. I’ve been professional for 20 years and when you have the day-to-day habit in football of going to games and going to training, it’s important not to step away completely.”

And does he see a career long-term for himself in coaching?

“It’s certainly something I’m interested in, but it’s not a full-time job. The real world is calling me and I’ve a few different opportunities, so I’m not solely focused on football or coaching.”

You can read an in-depth interview with Gary Rogers on his time in the League of Ireland this weekend on The42.ie.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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