Dundalk FC’s Seán Gannon pictured with his SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month award for May at the Grand Canal Hotel, Dublin. (Pic: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile)
Seán Gannon was keen to lay praise on Dundalk FC’s team performances as he finally received individual recognition for his outstanding displays by collecting the SSE Airtricity League/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for May.
Gannon has been a model of consistency over his six seasons at Oriel Park. However, despite being an ever-present in the PFAI Team of the Year in recent times, the right-back had never bagged the SWAI’s monthly accolade.
Dundalk have been regular winners of the award during the club’s golden era, with last year seeing their players voted the country’s best in six of the nine months.
Last season, they did not win the first two, and this time around it has been a similar story, with their somewhat slow start contributing to Gannon’s success being their first of 2019.
Dinny Corcoran (Bohemians, February), Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers, March) and James Talbot (Bohemians, April) were this year’s previous winners.
But Gannon says Dundalk’s near-flawless form – with 12 wins from 13 outings in all competitions since mid-April – has deservedly resulted in the latest SWAI award going to Oriel Park.
The 27-year-old – who had team-mate, left-back Dean Jarvis alongside him in the six nominations – is arguably having his best-ever season in the League of Ireland. However, such is his manner, he put his individual trophy down to a team effort.
“Obviously, I’m very happy to win it. There are a lot of good players in the league and everybody that was nominated would have been worthy winners. They have all had brilliant months,” Gannon assessed, as he fought off competition from runner-up Danny Mandroiu (Bohemians), Chris Lyons (Drogheda United), Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers) and Romeo Parkes (Sligo Rovers).
“I’m just happy to win one. It’s brilliant. It’s an individual award, but I think it shows that we have been playing well as a team and we’ve been doing well lately.”
He added: “I’m very happy that people have recognised that I’ve been doing well for the month. Obviously, Jarvy being nominated as well – to have two players out of the six goes to show where we are as a team.”
Amazingly, going back to 2011, Gannon has been part of the Premier Division- winning squad in six of the last eight years, including his spells at Shamrock Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic.
His marauding runs from right-back, both domestically and in Europe, have been a joy to watch for Dundalk supporters, who will be surprised that he has never before won this gong.
But the defender insisted: “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been lucky enough to be successful and win trophies – I wouldn’t swap anything that has happened.
“Our attacking players are brilliant players and have won a lot of these awards over the past few seasons. The hardest thing to do is put the ball in the net. But I’m delighted to win one.
“We’re obviously defenders, first and foremost, but part of the emphasis here is getting up the line and having an input in the attacking third. The staff want us to play like that. That’s the way we want to play here.
“Anyone who has played, whether it be myself, Cammy (Cameron Dummigan), Jarvy or Dane (Massey), we all know what we have to do. We have to get up and down the line, and contribute to the team. It’s actually very enjoyable.”
In-form Dundalk head to Spain this week for a warm-weather training camp in preparation for next month’s UEFA Champions League qualifiers, as well as with a view to Friday week’s top-of-the-table clash against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
“We’re in a good place,” Gannon said of the league leaders. “We got through a period where we were down to the bare bones early on in the season. We had a lot of lads playing out of position.
“We got through that period. You can see the strength of the squad in training, it’s really good. We’re all pushing each other. People are stepping up their game and that’s what you have to do.
“We’ll go to Spain to get used to the heat and playing in that type of weather, coming into Europe. You need to get away and feel what it’s like. It’s obviously completely different to what you play in week in, week out. I think it’s a great few days for us a team.”
Along with a trip to Rovers, Dundalk will face Waterford and Derry City in a busy schedule before Europe. But Gannon is relishing the weeks ahead.
“Shamrock Rovers is a good game to look forward to – we’re all looking forward to that,” he said. “The second half of the season is going to be very enjoyable, with Europe too. There is a lot to look forward to.
“There are going to be so many games coming thick and fast that you’ll see the strength of the squad utilised again. It’s very important that we have players coming back from injury. We’ll enjoy our time together over in Spain and then come back into a good game against Rovers.”