Dundalk FC striker Georgie Kelly. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Striker Georgie Kelly admitted the decision to leave First Division league leaders UCD to join their Premier Division counterparts, Dundalk FC, was a tough one, but ultimately it was something that he had to do.
The Donegal-native signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Lilywhites on Monday, ending months of speculation about a potential transfer to Oriel Park.
Last season’s second tier top-scorer, with 17 goals, Kelly had already bagged 14 this term and adds undoubtedly to Stephen Kenny’s forward-reserve, which is already brimming with options.
“That (First Division title race) was probably the main thing holding me back,” Kelly told The Dundalk Democrat.
“You’ve done so much with the lads, got so far and then to leave them halfway through a season, that was tough and it took a lot of talking with parents, family and people to make the decision.
“But just coming here and looking at this today, you couldn’t turn this down, an opportunity like this. I’m looking forward to getting going.”
Asked if the deal had been completed long, or if a move back to the Students on loan was explored, the 21-year-old, who will wear number 45, said: “There were rumours, but nothing was done until recently enough.
“There’s a role here for me to play and he (Stephen Kenny) needs that role filled. (Staying with UCD on loan) wasn’t really an option. It might have been reported, but it was never on the cards.
“The culture and atmosphere around this club is exactly what I’m looking for. There’s other clubs where it’s not the same, it’s a bit more obnoxious and poisonous. But here is ideal for me and Stephen’s a huge part of it for me as well. His past of developing young players and bringing players through was a huge thing.”
As for his aims for the remainder of the season, Kelly added: “My aim here is just silverware and getting as far as we can in Europe. Pat’s (Hoban) flying and I’m not expecting to get in straight ahead of him. But I hope to work hard and maybe chip in with a few goals.”