By Paul Holland
Skerries based Mark Doyle started out with Drogheda’s Under-17s two years ago and has made a big impression in progressing to the Under-19s and senior team. The 18-year-old striker first played with his local team Skerries Town, then Home Farm for four years and on to Glebe North in Balbriggan. Mark was voted our Under-19s Player of the Year last season and made six sub appearances for the senior team. This season Mark has started several games for the first team.
It’s great to see a player like yourself coming through from the 17s, 19s and now on to the first-team.
“Yes I am very happy at the club and I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far. Winning the PFAI Cup and the League at Under-17 level was a great boost in my first season. Then last year to get promotion to the Premier Division was another highlight of my time here.”
You played most of the games for the Under-19s last season. How does it work this season when you are involved with the 19s and the first-team at the same time?
“If I don’t play with the senior team on the Friday night or if I play less than 30 minutes, I get to play for the 19s on the Saturday. I am guaranteed to get my football which is the most important thing for me.”
Today’s friendly game against Ipswich Town is a good chance for some new players to impress.
“Yes it’s great for us to be involved in such a prestigious friendly against a top team like Ipswich. Last year we did quite well against MK Dons from League 1, so a team from The Championship is a good challenge for us and ideal to check out a few trialists.”
Training has been mainly taking place in the AUL Complex recently.
“Yes there are fantastic grass pitches there, but we still train in Ashbourne on Sundays.”
You are at College at UCD I believe?
“Yeah I have just finished my first year in UCD and thankfully have passed all my exams. It’s handy getting the train from Skerries and then the Dart. I’m doing a three year course in Sports and Exercise Management. I’m hoping to be driving before too long so I am taking lessons at the moment. I’m lucky to have Eoghan Dempsey from Rush who drives me to training and matches etc.”
Have you always played up front?
“Yes I have. I’ve always been an attacking player and have played in various positions across the front line.”
Is it hard for an 18 year old like yourself to stay focused on football and not to be going out with your friends and drinking etc?
“No I find it ok as I put football first. I don’t drink anyway and the way I look at it, there is plenty of time for all that when I’m older! I’m just happy to be playing at a high level.”
You have made the step-up from 17s to 19s to first team. What’s that been like for you?
“The main difference is the pace of the game. Senior football is much faster. You don’t get much time on the ball but there is not much difference in technique between the different levels. There’s a big difference in standard between the 17s and 19s as the 19s play all over Ireland.”
You’ve started quite a few games, including both games against Shamrock Rovers and both against Limerick. You had one of our very few opportunities against Limerick last week. You made space really well before shooting into the side netting.
“Yes I’m delighted to be more involved this year than last. I’d put last week’s chance down as a half chance as it was from a tight angle. There was not much in it between ourselves and Limerick. On our day we would definitely beat them.”
Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
“Pete, John and Mark have really helped me with the first-team, however, as I know Derek Boyle for the last three years with the 19s, I would say he has been the biggest influence on me.”
What are your hopes for the future?
“My main aim would be to try and stay in the first-team at Drogheda. I want to keep improving as a player and score goals, then see where that takes me.”