IT looked dead and buried at one stage but Dundalk manager Ian Foster finally got his man as Greg Bolger put pen to paper on a one year contract before Thursday’s friendly victory over Monaghan United at Oriel Park.
Foster made public his admiration for the Wexford born midfielder in November of last year before seeing Bolger leave UCD for Sporting Fingal in January.
However with the demise of the 2009 FAI Cup winners, Bolger was made a free agent on Wednesday and less than 24 hours after contacting Foster to see if his offer still stood, Bolger was making his début in a Lilywhites shirt as a second-half substitute. A dramatic few days to say the very least.
“The last couple of days have been hard on the players at Fingal.”, said Bolger. “I felt sorry for the lads who were there from the start, I had only been there a couple of weeks but there were some who were there three years. We heard last week that the club needed backers and it was Wednesday we got the news that things didn’t look good.
The PFAI said that if we had options elsewhere we should get our bags packed and go. I got back in contact with Ian on Wednesday evening to see if he would take me and I’m delighted and grateful he said yes.”
“I want to play the game in the right way and we have the personnel here to do it at Dundalk”, he added. “That is my main reason for coming here. There was no point in me going to a team where the ball would be going over my head.
The Irish Under-23 international has also set his sights on a top four finish.
“Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers will be the toughest tests this season . Bohs are putting a squad together and St Pats started well last season and will be looking to sustain it but we have a very good squad here and if we can get one or two centre backs in we have a great chance of qualifying for Europe.”
The move surprised many at Oriel Park. Just seven days earlier, as news of Fingal’s difficulties first arose, Foster stated at a DFC Trust Q&A session that he was “not in the market for a central midfielder”. However when Bolger was released, it was an opportunity too goo to turn down.
“That is exactly the case”, said Foster. “He’s in the right price range. He’s one of the best holding midfield players in the country and he ticks all the boxes for the type of player we are trying to get to this football club: young, competitive and hungry to do well.
“He is someone we chased after, we lost out initially but it’s great to get him in the end. He’s a fantastic footballer. He showed in glimpses in the second-half what he is about. What it means is that we now have decent competition in the midfield. We’ve got players who can compete and pass the ball.”
Bolger joins a squad packed with some of the brightest young players in the League of Ireland. Foster’s 16 man squad for the Monaghan game had an average age of just 24 and the Dundalk boss is happy to have such precocious talent at his disposal.
“Bringing in young talent is what we’re trying to do. Its not easy to get a mix of young players who are also good enough. It’s alright saying we want young players but they have to be able to compete in this league. The likes of Keith Ward, Daniel Kearns, Greg Bolger, Stephen McDonnell and Michael Hector – who I thought was fantastic when he came on – are all able.
“Sometimes you speak to players and you forget how young they are. None of them suffer with confidence, I can tell you that! There are a couple of little positional things that they need to learn but they are exciting and hopefully they all have a great future here.”