Former Louth footballer Colm Nally wary of the rise of Dundalk

Nally says that players are gravitating toward the Europa League side and away from the GAA

Ronan Finn, Brian Gartland

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Former Louth footballer Conor Nally says he sees an increase in players gravitating toward Dundalk FC and away from the GAA in the wake of their success over the last three years. 

The League of Ireland champions are in search of a three-in-a-row and have also made history in Europe by becoming the first Irish team to pick up a point (and subsequently a victory) in the group stage of European competition.

Their success, under the stewardship of Stephen Kenny, has been one of the greatest stories in Irish soccer history and Nally says this has impacted on the numbers of young people getting involved in the GAA.

"It’s massive, it is," Nally told John Harrington of "You’d have a lot of players 18 or 19 that would be part of Louth minor squads, and part of the Dundalk U19s. They have the full first pull on them at the minute. They are following the dream.

"They have access to European football. The top League of Ireland players are all playing for Dundalk at the minute so their profile is quite high, so they are all involved with them, they are all hoping to make the breakthrough.

"They are also all GAA players, all playing with their local clubs, but we are hoping we can get a few of them to wear the red of Louth."

Nally highlighted to influence that League of Ireland sides are now having on the GAA and the pull within the county. He also says that Dundalk are not the only team who are having this affect on the local boys.

"There would be four or five fellas that would have played even on our recent minor teams who are now playing with Dundalk and there is a few with Drogheda as well.

"Drogheda and Dundalk are very urbanised. You have six GAA clubs in Drogheda and something similar in Dundalk, so they’d all be playing with their friends in that sort of community environment, but they are also playing with the soccer teams as well.

"I think when they come out of minor what really happens is that these four or five fellas are seen to gravitate towards the soccer rather than the GAA."

Louth have not won a Leinster title since 1957, the same year they last won the All-Ireland by beating Cork in the final. Nally believes there is pedigree in Louth to develop top footballers - and athletes of all kinds - but that Dundalk and Drogheda garner a larger market share.

"Louth is a great sporting county and it keeps producing great sportspeople. Most of them successful players, from the Gary Kellys to the Ian Hartes, have all played gaelic football.

"Rob Kearney played with Cooley minors and he played for Cooley seniors, and his brother Dave.

"They've all played, it's a great sporting county, and you'd love one day that they'd all come together, those with the best potential, and just click.

"Because I think if we got one breakthrough team, the fellas will see that there's a huge buzz to playing for your county."