Wednesday 26 October 2016

Son Shining bright

Young Molloy aims for Cup glory with Drogheda before exit to US

Drogheda United’s Aaron Molloy (r) in action against Dundalk’s Brian Gartland during the Jim Malone Cup last March. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Drogheda United’s Aaron Molloy (r) in action against Dundalk’s Brian Gartland during the Jim Malone Cup last March. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Trevor Molloy scores a penalty for St Patrick’s Athletic during the 2006 FAI Cup final against Derry City at Lansdowne Road. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Peter Schmeichel recently spoke of his pain upon hearing punters telling his goalkeeper son, Kasper, that no matter how talented the kid was, he'd never be as good as his dad.

Some people in the League of Ireland have already decided that Drogheda United youngster Aaron Molloy is already a step above his dad, Trevor, a man who knew a thing or two about scoring goals back in the day.

Just turned 19, Aaron has been an impressive performer for Drogheda this season and his form in midfield could have a bearing on whether Drogheda can get a result tonight in their FAI Cup test, away to Derry City.

His debut season in first team football has been spent in the relative obscurity of the second tier but Drogheda supporters like what they see and have made that known with their own song.

"My da was there when we played Shels and beat them last week, I think some of the fans knew he was there," says Aaron.

"So they started singing a song about me along the lines of 'You're better than your da'. He was getting stick from the Shels fans too but I think he saw the funny side of it."

Older fans of the league will find it scary to now see in action the offspring of a man who was playing senior football (up North, with Glenavon) only five years ago, though there's more talent to come as Aaron's kid brother, Daebhan, is a handy footballer too.

Aaron differs from his dad in the way he plays: while Trevor was a nippy centre forward with an eye for goal, Aaron knew from early on that he wasn't cut out for that.

"I was more like the lad who stays in central midfield, gets on to second balls, the donkey work. I was a striker when I was younger but from U12s on, when I was at Crumlin United, I was moved into midfield and I've been there since."

Learning his trade with St Kevin's Boys and Crumlin United, Molloy found his way to the Bohemians U19 side. Keith Long saw enough potential to offer him a contract but with no path clear to the first team, Molloy decided to leave at the end of last season to seek first-team football, and the move to Drogheda has worked out well, Molloy an ever-present.

Most players his age look to England for their next move but Aaron already has his career planned out, and will leave Drogheda at the end of next month to begin a scholarship in Florida. "I think England won't happen for me now at my age, I was promised different things when I was a kid but it never happened. But I think it's more important to go and get an education, get a degree under my belt and see what happens then, I can always come home and play League of Ireland. America is just something different."

That's a call which Trevor backs. "He could stay in the league here and just get €300 a week for the next 10 years but if he comes back from the US with a degree, he can have a much better career for himself," he says.

Trevor is confident of progress. "Aaron's made the step-up each time he's had to. From schoolboys to the U19 league to the League of Ireland First Division, he's done it and done it well," says Trevor.

Trevor deflects praise for the lads's development, saying: "everything he's got so far has been down to his own hard work", though there is one element of Aaron's game he claims credit for: heading the ball, as Trevor hung a ball from some string in Aaron's room as a child so he could practice.

"My dad was a good striker but he used to get slated for not heading the ball. So back when he was at Rovers and Pats, when I was a nipper, he'd always throw the ball up for me to make sure I was never afraid to head the ball the way he was. I'm not the tallest but because of that training from my da, I'm not afraid to go up and win a header."

The bookies give Drogheda little chance of an upset in Derry tonight, but Pete Mahon's side are on a four-game winning run in the league, boosting confidence ahead of that trek up the N2. "We're not going up there to lose, we feel we can win," says Aaron.

"Pete Mahon, John Gill and Mark Kinsella have been preparing us all week for this. We're on a good run in the league, it's a long time since Drogheda won five in a row so that's what we're aiming for.

"My last game is UCD at home next month as I'm off to Florida then, but I'd love to see the lads go all the way in the FAI Cup, if we can get off to a good start in Derry tonight, I see no reason why we can't go there and win, I'd love to see the lads go all the way to the Aviva for the final."

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