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'Without disrespecting the First Division, you know you're not getting looked at'

Mark Doyle is hoping to continue to impress in the top flight with Drogheda.

Mark Doyle pictured competing for Drogheda.
Mark Doyle pictured competing for Drogheda.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MARK DOYLE HAS had a better 2020 than most.

The 22-year-old attacker was his side’s leading scorer as he helped Drogheda win the First Division title and earn automatic promotion in the process.

To top it all off, on Wednesday it was confirmed that Doyle had been voted by his peers as the First Division Player of the Year.

Already though, he is thinking about next season and the challenge of moving up a level.

“We’re going to be up against it most games,” he says. “Hopefully, we can surprise a few people. Maybe people won’t know much about us. We might be able to cause a few shocks and get a few results. It’ll be important to pick up points against the teams around us that’ll probably be towards the lower end of the table.

“I think once you get promoted, your aim has to be to stay up and try to work from there.” 

Drogheda are not full-time, with manager Tim Clancy recently telling The42 about his 11pm to 7am shift. Doyle, though, does not currently have a job on the side away from the game, and has finished college.

I’m putting all my energy into football, fully focusing on myself, doing a lot of work in the gym, even though it doesn’t look like it,” he explains. “I’m doing a bit of coaching on the side, though football is my main priority at the moment.”

While he will be up against full-time footballers next year, Doyle considers himself “almost full-time,” given all the extra training he puts in.

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And this hard work has been reflected in the progress he has made on the field. He joined the club at 16 and was part of the team that were promoted in 2016, but as a young peripheral squad member, didn’t see much action. He did feature during their 2017 Premier Division campaign, but again, not consistently.

In the last three years, however, Doyle has established himself as a vital player in the side. Last year, Clancy’s men missed out on promotion in agonising circumstances — a 2-1 aggregate defeat against Finn Harps in a play-off.

Yet that setback seemingly galvanised the team, as a victory over Cabinteely on the last day meant they pipped Bray Wanderers to the title.

Doyle, who was also named Player of the Year by the club’s fans, managed to score 13 goals along the way, matching his tally from last season despite playing far fewer games.

I’d like to think I’m improving every year. Ever since Tim [Clancy] has come in as well, he’s put so much confidence in me — Tim and Kev Doherty. They give you the trust and everything you need to improve really. Up in Drogheda, they have so much faith in me. I always wanted to do well for them, for the fans and for everyone.”

Last month, it was confirmed that Doyle had extended his contract for another year at the club and with 37 goals in 108 Drogheda appearances overall, he now feels more prepared for Premier Division football.

He adds that “full-time football would be an aim of mine in the future,” though plays down any suggestion of leaving Drogheda anytime soon, when asked whether he has ambitions to go abroad.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I had a good season in the First Division. Without disrespecting the First Division, you know you’re not getting looked at for doing well [from] anywhere else, I don’t think. I have to become a Premier Division player first, an established player, do well and then maybe the chance [will come]. But for the minute, definitely not.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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