HoBAN KEEPS HIS MIND ON THE TASK AT HAND
DUNDALK star Patrick Hoban says he would love to have another try at a cross-channel career - but only after he has completed his task in the League of Ireland title race this season.
The Galway-born striker scored his 17th league goal of the season as the Lilywhites defeated UCD 2-0 on Friday night, that win allowing Dundalk to retain their three-point lead at the top of the Premier Division table, with just four league games to go.
Winning their first league title in 19 years is the main objective for Dundalk but once the season is over the club face another challenge, trying to keep their highly-regarded squad intact as players like Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan, Sean Gannon and striker Hoban will all attract cross-channel interest.
There was one interested spectator at Dundalk's win over UCD on Friday as former Lilywhites player Garry Haylock, now first-team coach at League Two side Exeter City, was in attendance while one division above that, Chesterfield boss Paul Cook is also an admirer of some of the Dundalk players.
Hoban, 23, has already had a sniff across the water as he spent a season with Bristol City without much success but with speculation about his future inevitable, he says he would like to make it in the British club scene.
"I want to play to as high a level as I can," says Hoban. "I have been in England before and I think I was too young when I went over that time. And also, that time I didn't go over as a striker but as a defensive midfielder. Two of us went over from the league at the same time, I was with Jimmy Keohane, who is at Exeter now.
"I would love another crack at it. I work hard every day in training and like every player, you want to get the rewards. But my main aim is to win a league with Dundalk this season.
"Everyone knows the way finances are in the league now so every player has to consider his options.
"Being honest, it's not on my mind right now as if you let speculation get to you, your game will suffer and I don't want to be distracted. I did well in the game against UCD on Friday but my mind is already on the next game, away to Athlone next week.
"I would really love to win a league with Dundalk, whatever happens after that will happen and playing full-time in England would certainly interest me, especially as it didn't work out for me the last time."
While it has been an incredibly busy year for the Oriel Park club - Friday was their 46th competitive game of the season - they now face a frustrating wait for their next league match.
With no Premier Division game scheduled for next weekend due to the FAI Cup programme, Dundalk have to wait 12 days before they are in action again.
"You have to take the games as they come, with the form we are in it would be nice to have another game this week and keep up the tempo but we just have to get on with it.
"From the manager's point of view, having a bit of a break will be good to give players a bit of a rest but we won't take the foot off the pedal, and we get ready for the next game against Athlone Town," added Hoban.
While UCD now appear to be on their way back to Division One, having managed just two points from their last nine games, Athlone are unbeaten in six games.
"We won't have an easy night in Athlone, we scraped a 1-0 win down there early in the season so we'll expect another tough night."
He added: There's still a lot of football to be played and there's no way we will start saying that we have one hand on the trophy.
But we know what's ahead of us, we have four league games left and four wins is the aim."