Interview : Derek Nulty
It was definitely a big decision, and it was controversial as myself, Bobby Ryan and Colin Hawkins left together. At the time, Damien Lynch and Simon Webb went to Drogheda, People have their own opinions on the move, but it was a football decision and not a move I regret. Shels were champions and had some great results in Europe. Bohs at the time were having financial problems and as players we faced an uncertain future.
Did you enjoy your time at Shels ?
Yeah, I enjoyed my time at Shels. From a players perspective the club was run brilliantly. Pat Fenlon was a brilliant Manager and Eamonn Collins was a great coach. Everything was very professional with breakfast and lunch for the players, which to be fair we also had at Bohs, but the whole set up was just a bit more professional and geared towards success.
You returned to Bohs in 2007 and surpassed Turlogh O' Connors record of 121 goals. Can you describe your second spell with Bohs and breaking the record ?
The move back to Bohs was great. I had better offers from clubs but when it was time to leave Shels, Bohs were the only club I wanted to join. We won a double and it was great to go back. I didn't realise I had broken the record until after the game. Someone told me and its something, I'm very proud of.
Five league titles, four with Bohs, one with Shels, which gave you the most satisfaction ?
The first one was special as we won it on the last day. We had to beat Kilkenny which we did 5-0, and hope Cork would get a result away to Shels. Shels slipped up, and it was a great feeling when news filtered through that we were champions. The league title with Shels was another title that was won on the last day. I scored the winner against Bohs after we came from 1-0 down to win 2-1. Winning the league on the last day, makes it a little sweeter. The intensity goes when it's wrapped up early, which happened to us this season. To be honest though, there is no bad way to win a league.
When did you find out you would make your Ireland debut ?
Don Givens told me at training the night before. He said, I'm starting you tomorrow, I believe in you, play your natural game, and enjoy it. I was probably more nervous than my Wolves debut, because you have a lot time to think about it, but you don't care how or when you are told, you are going to play for your country.
As an ex LOI player, did Roy Keane have any words of encouragement ?
We had a few chats at breakfast and dinner. Roy had a genuine interest in the League Of Ireland and he was knowledgeable about players and teams. I found him nice and pleasant, he certainly wasn't brash or outgoing and he had no ego. He had a great intensity and I liked that, playing for Ireland meant everything to him.
Can you describe what it's like to play for your country ?
It's something I dreamed of as a kid and it's an unbelievable feeling to hear the National anthem, put on the jersey and play for Ireland. My second cap was at home to Norway at Lansdowne Road and to play in front of a full house was very special.
Best stadium you played in ?
Molineux was decent with a great pitch. The atmosphere was always good. I always enjoyed playing at the Riverside. Kasiserslautern was another great stadium. Fratton Park had a great atmosphere. I played a few friendlies in Scotland and it was noticeable that clubs invest a lot of their money in grounds and training facilities. Dalymount was another ground I always loved playing in. The best would have to be Lansdowne Road playing for Ireland. It had history and it had a great atmosphere when Ireland were playing.
Who was the best manager you played under ?
Pat Fenlon. Roddy was a brilliant man manager, second to none, and he was brave with tactics and wasn't afraid to try things. Stephen Kenny at Bohs was excellent, and that was the best passing side I played in. Stephen gets players believing in him, and everyone knew their roles. You can see it now with the success at Dundalk. Pat Fenlon does everything well, his coaching, his staff, he can put on a brilliant session or he can take a step back and observe and get his points across. Tactically he was very good and he was also a good man manager. He played at a high level, one thing Pat does, if you play bad and win, he won't hold anything back. If the team has lost and given it everything, he will take any criticism from the media or fans. If he got it wrong tactically, he's not afraid to hold his hands up.
Best strike partner you played with ?
Paul Keegan at Bohs. I felt he complimented my style and he scored his share of goals. I played with some brilliant strikers. Paul wouldn't score as many as Jason Byrne, but I'm sure having played with Paul at Bray, Jason would say the same. Paul was great in the air, he ran teams into the ground, and was very good with his back to the goal. We gelled, Paul would drop deep and he would want me to be at the end of crosses. Paul didn't get the accolades, but anyone who's played with him, would certainly appreciate him.
Best player who shared a pitch with ?
Kevin Hunt without a shadow of a doubt. I was lucky enough to play with some great players. Owen Heary won loads of trophies, and as a captain his influence was massive. Kevin dictated a game, he was so consistent. If you were winning a game, you knew Kevin was playing well. He was a sitting midfielder, and although he's wasn't intimidating, if you went in for a challenge with him, you would know about it. He certainly wasn't a dirty player, he was a great captain who led by example, and you trusted everything he did.
Toughest defender you faced ?
The toughest partnership would be Peter Hutton and Darren Kelly when they played for Derry City. They were two unbelievable players, who both read the game so well. They were tough and honest, not big, physical and imposing like a Colin Hawkins or Shauny Maher. If you came off the pitch, feeling you played well against them, you earned it. Tony McCarthy and Pat Scully were also two very tough defenders to play against.
Do you still watch LOI Games ?
I do when I can on TV. I haven't had a chance to go and watch many games. My son is 3 now, so when he's older, I'll definitely bring him Dalymount to some games with my father. My family watched a lot of my games and have followed my career, so it will be nice to sit with them and my son and watch Bohs.
After spells in Malahide and Sporting Fingal, you returned to your first club.
How much have you enjoyed it ?
I've really enjoyed it. When I finished with Malahide it was the only club I would have joined. Sporting Fingal was a club with terrific people involved, and the same with Malahide. Vinny Perth joining Stephen Kenny at Dundalk would have probably have made the a move happen sooner. I talked to Paul Mc Nally and Brian about the club and the plans have now all come to fruition. Brian brought in coaches like Graham Lawlor, Bobby's here now and the coaching is always top class. I knew Rocko very well, Craig Sheridan and Brian Kelly arrived and they added more quality and intensity in the training. Our supporters would see that every week. Brian brought in players who would give it everything for the common goal, which is success. It was a great decision to come back to where it all started.
You have scored some great goals for the club, do you have a favourite ?
I enjoyed the goal against Verona away, that was a good finish, and it was an important equaliser. Craig got the winner in the last minute. My favourite Saints goals is Craig's winner at home to Dunboyne deep into injury time. Craig has scored a few vital late goals for the club. The Dunboyne win kept our promotion hopes alive, we needed to win six games in succession, and we did it.
Your happiest time in football ?
That's a difficult one. Training every day and playing for Wolves was amazing. You are doing what you wanted to do since you were a child playing football. Rob Kelly's training sessions were unbelievable and the first taste of everyday top coaching I had. Bohs was a brilliant time, with so many great memories, but to be honest, I'm lucky that I really did enjoy every minute of playing.
Football item you cherish the most ?
My cap and medals. I have my Ireland jerseys framed. My father has a lot of mementos, including my Mochta's mini leagues trophies. I have a few deflated match balls in the attic. I cherish all my medals and trophies, as they are hard earned and bring back some fantastic memories.
Everyone is delighted you will be a coach with our Senior team, are you looking forward to it ?
I am. I know all the lads well and I've known Bobby since our Bohs days. Brian takes a step back and lets Bobby do the coaching, Brian delegates well. Bobbys sessions are brilliant, if I can compliment that it will be great. I have the UEFA B licence, and I do enjoy coaching, but I always felt, I didn't want to be coaching while I was still a player.
Any ambitions to be a manager ?
No, the coaches are always the good guys, so I'm happy enough with that. Seriously though, managing was never something that appealed to me.
Glen it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
No problem. Thank you.