Dundalk striker Patrick Hoban is hoping for another ‘dream season’ in 2014 after agreeing a new contract to stay at Oriel Park.
The 22-year-old turned down contract offers from other clubs to pen a new deal and he said that manager Stephen Kenny’s influence, coupled with the love he has received from the club’s fans, were the main factors in his decision.
“The manager has improved me so much as a player and that’s why I signed again. I still have loads to learn as a player and that’s what I want to do.
“It took me a while to get used to the Premier Division”, he admitted. “I got a kick up the arse when I was dropped after a few games early on in the season but Stephen kept giving me confidence.
“I want to go on and play at the highest possible level and he (Kenny) can improve me big time. I didn’t want to sign for any other club in Ireland. It was a very easy decision to make.”
Hoban has become a firm favourite with the Dundalk fans. Nicknamed ‘The Hobanator’, he has responded with 17 goals in all competitions, earning him a place in the PFAI Team of the Year and a nomination for both the PFAI Player and Young Player of the Year award.
No wonder, then, that he refers to this year as a ‘dream season’.
“I’m over the moon but I have to keep level headed”, he said. “Obviously my parents and family are absolutely delighted. This year has been a dream and it’s definitely been, by far, the best year of my career.
“Getting things like the SWAI Player of the Month for July and even the FIFA 14 cover, fans singing my name with ‘The Hobanator’ song, they’re things I’ve always dreamed about”, he added.
“It’s coming true here. I hear my name being sung loud and clear here so why would I want to be anywhere else?”
As well as Player of the Year nominations, Hoban is certain to be included in the Goal of the Season contenders for his outstanding overhead kick against Cork City last Friday night.
For many, it was one of the best goals ever witnessed at Oriel Park but Hoban said he was unsure if it was his best!
“I don’t know, there’s a few. I’m starting to build a bit of a catalogue”, he laughed. “In my head it was the only way I had a chance of scoring. The ball was going away from me but I just went for it like the one I got earlier in the season against Sligo. I try things like that all the time, sometimes they come off, sometimes they don’t. I’m just delighted that one did.”
The 4-0 rout of the Leesiders gave Dundalk the perfect end to their home campaign. Second place will be assured with a win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds this Friday and Hoban is backing Dundalk to use the bitter experience of losing the title to St Patrick’s Athletic to their advantage next season.
“After the disappointment of watching St Pat’s win the league we knew we had to finish on a high. We want to finish in second place, that’s our main objective and we’re one step closer to achieving that.
“Most of us know that we are here next year so I don’t see why we can’t push on”, he added. “We have to learn from our mistakes this season, things like losing 3-2 in Limerick when we were 2-0 up at half-time; stuff like that. Hopefully we can stride on.”
10 of Kenny’s squad have already put pen to paper and Hoban said it was essential that the group stayed together.
“It’s extremely important. We’re not just a team of individuals, we’re all friends in there. I thought before I came up that I would have to stay in my shell but all the lads are brilliant. It’s like being back home playing with your mates. We all get on really well and we want to go on and do better next year.”