"It's a dream come true" - Dundalk record-breaker Pat Hoban

23rd November 2023

Just a short walk from the towering lights of Oriel Park is Pearse Park, a cluster of houses built early in the 20th Century and it was the place that Joey Donnelly called home. A lot has changed in Dundalk in that time, the brewery adjacent to the

Just a short walk from the towering lights of Oriel Park is Pearse Park, a cluster of houses built early in the 20th Century and it was the place that Joey Donnelly called home.

A lot has changed in Dundalk in that time, the brewery adjacent to the estate is now all but closed, the school across the Friary Field, once graced by Stephen Staunton as he played for St. Dominic's is now triple in size, however, the rows of houses remain the same. 

Up until 8:39 pm on Friday night like the houses that have stood the test of time, so did Joey Donnelly’s league goalscoring record. That is until Pat Hoban headed past Alan Mannus to break the record that had stood firm like bricks and motor since 1943. 

What makes it more ironic, his record tally goal fell exactly the same weekend that Hoban scored his first goal for the club six years ago in a two-nil victory over Cork City in what was Stephen Kenny’s first season as manager.

“I couldn’t have planned it but that’s the way life goes,” explained Patrick following the win on Friday night. “For me to beat the record and I am only here three and a half seasons its a dream come true kind of stuff and I am honoured to do it at such big club like Dundalk. I just want to keep repeating that and set a proper example and a goal record for years to come.

“At the end of your career you will look back at what you have done and this is definitely one of the highlights I hope I can set a proper marker now.”

You get the feeling that Hoban despite breaking the goal record in such a short period of time is only getting started on building a legacy of his own. 

“It’s very hard to think about it now, right now all I’m thinking about is scoring more goals and setting a record that for future players to come and make it difficult for them and hopefully someone can come and beat it when I am gone.

“It was toward the end of last season, I was told by a source that I was five to six goals away from beating it and it was literally impossible for me to do that last season, I don’t think I could have beaten that record last season it would have been very tough but now I am glad to beat it.”

While a majority of his goals this season have not been from open play, Hoban stressed the importance of maintaining putting the ball in the back of the net, no matter what the circumstances.

“I’ll take thirty penalties a season! The penalties I have had this season they haven’t been for a three or four nil they have been quite crucial penalties in games and last minute winners and penalties are there to be put into the net. So it would be worse if I was missing them so I’ll take a goal no matter what way it comes even if it was a yard out.”

Friday nights win was crucial in maintaining the pace on Shamrock Rovers, who a few weeks ago looked like the train that could not be stopped, pulling them into stations Dalymount and Oriel have slowed the Tallaght train down but not derailed them as yet. 

"We definitely needed to win tonight you can see that in our performance especially after the first twenty minutes. To be honest I think its the best we have played we could have been two, three, four, five up I thought in my eyes they got lucky to score and I thought we were excellent from back to front and worthy of the three points.”

Following the loss to Sligo in the Showgrounds a few weeks back when it looked as if the retaining of the title was over before it even began and the team ensured that it wasn’t going to be the case. Standing up and being accountable during your lowest of ebbs is when a persons mettle and character is shown, something this side has shown in abundance.

“There have been questions on all of us, not just the players but the backroom staff but since the defeat to Sligo we have reacted really well as a group, we have reacted well as backroom staff. We are one hundred per cent behind Vinny and what he is doing, he has been absolutely fantastic in the last few weeks when the chips were down with Higgy and Giller.”

“We did have it out after the Sligo game there and then but you know you can’t feel sorry for yourself for too long because Shamrock Rovers have set a bar that we had to go reach that we had to get in close to them. They are four points ahead and we have a game in hand it's a long season ahead.”

It feels as if the pieces of the Vinny Perth masterplan are filling falling into place with the return of key players to the fore but all of that is in vain if Dundalk do not maintain their current momentum.

“Its not just that its the standards in training everything is higher, it was tough for weeks there was fourteen or fifteen training and lads had to be pulled out of training its been quite frustrating and you can see in the last few weeks everyone has been training and getting sharper and personally I feel I’m getting sharper and maybe the busy schedule is helping. This result will not be worthwhile if we don’t go to Waterford and get three points.”

One would wonder the next time Hoban goes to visit Brian Gartland in his house will he pause and look around the street that he stands on, it's the same street that Joey Donnelly walked to and from Oriel Park every week for training and games. A fitting legacy to be continued by a new record holder.