Dave McMillan shrugs off 'supersub' tag to drive on Dundalk's title challenge
AGED just 25, David McMillan admits he is too young to remember a player called David Fairclough.
The original 'Supersub', Fairclough managed to earn an astonishing haul of 19 senior trophies with Liverpool in the 1970s and '80s even though he hardly ever started a game for the club.
Striker McMillan has certainly played a part for Stephen Kenny's Dundalk side this season, their second-top scorer with 15 goals in all competitions. But it's generally a bench role for the former UCD and St Pats man who has started just three times in the whole league campaign under Kenny, yet he's still a key component of a Dundalk side who can move closer to their first Premier Division title success since 1995 if they can win away to UCD tonight.
"People use that term, Supersub, to describe me and it's not a tag I want to have, I would love to be starting more game," says the Dubliner.
"But I can't complain too much, Pat Hoban has been so strong up front for us this season. I will do what the manager asks - I had to play out on the right on Saturday in the League Cup final and that's not my natural position but we all worked hard for the team to get the result
"For a player like me it's all about scoring goals, or trying to score them. You look at our goal difference in the league and we are way ahead of everyone else, in terms of defence as well as attack. And we want to continue that."
Dundalk achieved one major milestone last weekend as their EA Sports Cup final defeat of Shamrock Rovers was the 50th senior trophy in the club's history.
Another target is in focus tonight, as Dundalk are currently on a tally of 99 goals scored in all competitions. Having scored nine times in two meetings with UCD already this season, Dundalk fans will travel to the Belfield Bowl expecting more treats from Kenny's attacking side.
The stats are on their side as UCD have managed just one clean sheet from the last eight games and have also lost six of their last eight.
Yet title-chasing teams have come unstuck at this stage of the season before - Bohemians against Galway United in 2010 so Kenny will preach caution, a lesson not needed for McMillan. "Early on in the season we went to Athlone and scraped home with a late penalty, we got beaten by Bray so we will not assume that UCD is an easy game for us," he says.
McMillan cut his teeth in senior football with UCD, helping them win promotion in 2009, so he has a clear idea of the mindset of the home dressing room tonight the striker all too aware that UCD will not roll over and provide a guard of honour for the champions-elect.
"Their players don't have any fear. It's been a hard season for them and they are in a tough position at the bottom, they haven't won too many games lately. But from chatting to some of their players I know they are desperate to stay up and they're fighting for their lives," he says.
"There is a very proud record there at UCD, they have been in the top division for a few years now, since I helped get them up in 2009. They've had five straight seasons in the top flight and those players won't want to lose that status.
"I know the way UCD play, they have nothing to lose and they play free-flowing football so we have to be very careful of them, we have to show why we're top of the league and go there to get the three points," McMillan added. "We had a very good side at UCD in the First Division, lads who went on to win leagues such as Ronan Finn, Ciaran Kilduff and Greg Bolger, Paul Corry getting away to England, my brother Evan at Sligo.
"I don't think I would have got a chance in the League of Ireland if it wasn't for UCD and a lot of players owe their careers to the club. You hear that argument that UCD don't bring any fans but they contribute to the league in so many other ways, it's great for players and I am very grateful that I got a chance to learn my trade at UCD."
But for now, the focus is on DUndalk and keeping up that title push. "Before last weekend the only senior medal I had won was the First Division with UCD. Now I have the EA Sports Cup as well and hopefully there's another trophy to come before the end of the year, that's the goal," he admits.
"I did feel there was a title in this team when I came to Dundalk. A lot depends on how players react to disappointments. Last season Dundalk went close, they finished second in the league and got beaten in the FAI Cup semi-final. But the players showed that they have a real hunger and desire by coming back again the way they have this season.
"We have a lot of young players here who re-signed with Dundalk early on, well before the season started as they believed in what the manager was doing. I was confident that we could challenge but we haven't won it yet and we have some massive games ahead of us."