John Mountney is aiming to make up for lost time having made his long-awaited injury comeback in a friendly match against Bohemians on Friday night.
he 29-year-old hasn’t featured for Dundalk since re-joining the club from St Patrick’s Athletic before Christmas having suffered an ACL injury in a league match between the two sides at Oriel Park last August.
He made a major step on the road to recovery at Dalymount Park on Friday though as he came through 45 minutes unscathed in a morale-boosting 3-0 win for Stephen O’Donnell’s side ahead of their top of the table clash with Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park this weekend.
While Mountney had hoped to be back some time ago, he is hopeful of still making an impact this season as Dundalk look to build on a solid first half of the campaign, which has left them in second place in the table with a game in hand over the rest of the top five.
“It was disappointing,” he said of the last few months.
“My plan was always to be back available before the break and to get minutes. That didn’t happen so now I’m in a situation where I’m just hoping to stay fit, stay injury free and make myself available for selection. Whenever the manager and the lads need me I’m ready to come and help us.
“It’s just great to be back out there. Having trained for the last few weeks it was great to be back out with the lads but nothing replicates a match and especially a game like we had tonight against a good, competitive team like Bohemians. It was a great feeling to be out there.”
Getting back on the pitch is one thing but Mountney was pleased with how things went for both him and his side on the night with goals from Ryan O’Kane and Steven Bradley, coupled with a Rory Feely OG, ensuring it was a good come back for the Mayo man 306 days on from his last appearance.
“It’s 10 months since actually playing again so that was the question in my head: how would I feel mentally and would the sharpness be there? Like I said though, it just felt great to be out there and to play because the lads have been very good all season and it was great to get a taste of it tonight.
“I’d been on the bench a couple of times but I think that was just a case of us being short bodies and getting back into the match day mind set but I’m at a stage now where I’m available for selection and that’s a box ticked tonight now getting minutes into the legs so I’m really looking forward to the second half of the season.
“It was a great run out. Bohemians are a very good side and I was up against good attacking players as well playing at right back so it was a good test. Like that, we have very good attacking players going the other way so it was good to link up with them as well.
“It’s great to finally be back. That was the final stage I needed to get through to get through minutes and not react. That felt great just playing in that – opening the legs up and getting out there. I’ll recover now. Even though it was only 45 minutes, it felt like 90 but I’m looking forward to being more involved now in the second half of the season.”
Mountney, who last featured for Dundalk when he played 36 minutes of the game against Arsenal at the Aviva Stadium in December 2020, was part of a Lilywhites squad who became unexpected title challengers to St Pat’s in 2013. While not wanting to predict a title challenge, he said he felt Dundalk were in a good place as a club right now.
“Well, you can see how much the squad has come along since the start of the season,” he said. “Stephen, Padge, Burnsy and Dave have really put standards on us and are really driving us. It’ll take time. We’re in a good position at the moment but the league is so competitive. We’re going well and we’re building strongly so the future is definitely going to be bright for the club.”
Mountney’s future off the field will also be solidified this weekend when he ties the knot in Malta.
“I’ve the wedding coming up so I’ll be away for a couple of days but I won’t be missing much. It has been a long time out and I’m just glad to be back involved again,” he said.