Gary Rogers only fully cropped up on my radar in 2007 signing for Tony Cousins’ Galway United. After being frozen out as first choice keeper at Drogheda United, Rogers went on to have one of the bleakest seasons of his career in 2006.
Rogers started with Dublin City, however, due to severe financial problems the club folded mid-season leaving Rogers without a club. He then finished the season by making a handful of appearances for Bray Wanderers.
In 2007, Galway United had just been promoted and the signing of a well experienced Premier Division keeper was incredibly promising. Throughout the season Rogers never appeared to be the competent keeper the management and fans had hoped for. Lacking in confidence and seemingly calamitous, Rogers became one of the most frustrating players to watch during this period for Galway United. This form rolled over into the 2008 season.
With a run of poor form early on in the season Tony Cousins was removed from his position and former Ireland international Jeff Kenna appointed in his place. To be fair to Rogers, while he was incredibly disappointing for much of this season the rest of the Galway United squad around him took a step backward too.
This only brought further ire and disappointment towards the Meath native from the Galway United fans. Simple set pieces not being dealt with and unconvincing attempts on goal bafflingly conceded further beleaguered the keeper. Goal kicks were left somewhat to the imagination as numerous attempts skyrocketed out of bounds and rarely, if ever, found a maroon shirt.
There came a stage midway through the season that Kenna, frustrated with Rogers’ performances between the posts, dropped him in favour of the Barbadian Alvin Rouse. Rouse tried to make the most of his opportunity and earned a man of the match award in a one-nil win away to Bray Wanderers.
This was only Galway United’s second win in the league in 2008. However, this new found goalkeeping star was short-lived as, in the following game against Derry City, United were thumped four-nil ending Rouse’s run in goals. Rogers was reinstated as Galway United’s number one. The best, however, was yet to come from both Gary Rogers and Galway United.
Galway United’s form under the management of Jeff Kenna had been lacklustre. The team never showed any sign of cohesion or desire to put in a decent performance, never mind avoiding relegation. This changed in the latter part of the season with a win over the always impressive Cork City.
Of the six games left after the Cork City game, Rogers kept a clean sheet in four of them. Any Galway United fan will recall the outstanding performances the goalkeeper put in in the final dash to avoid relegation. His clean sheet against St. Patrick’s Athletic is particularly memorable.
A man possessed – Rogers put his body on the line on numerous occasions, refusing to concede even when he had no business stopping the ball from going into his net. Galway United managed to avoid relegation on the last day of the season by beating – already relegated – UCD. This change in form and the results Galway United achieved to avoid relegation started from Rogers newly discovered confidence and desire to give every striker he faced a hard time.
When Kenna moved to take the vacant position at St. Pat’s Rogers followed Kenna; his performances the previous season hadn’t gone unnoticed. After Kenna was sacked following a poor run of results, Rogers stayed on until 2011. He became very popular at the Inchicore club. He began to build on his new found reverence in the League of Ireland. Rogers kept clean sheets in the opening five games of the season, St. Pat’s fans voted him as their player of the year for the 2010 season.
He went on to make numerous appearances for the club during their Europa League campaigns in 2009 and 2011 he kept clean sheets against Valetta FC, FC Krylia Sovetov Samara, Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja and FC Shakhter Karagandy respectively. Rogers had firmly established himself as one of the top keepers in the country and signed for Sligo Rovers for the 2012 season.
Rogers retained his dominance, earning his place as number one at the Showgrounds and aided Rovers in winning their first Premier Division title in 35 years. This meant Champions League football for the first time for Rogers, which sadly ended in defeat against Norwegian club Molde. More success was on the cards for Rogers as Sligo went on to win the FAI Cup in 2013 and then the Setanta Cup in 2014.
In 2015, with Peter Cherrie’s move to Northern Ireland, Rogers signed for Dundalk. At the halfway point of the season Dundalk have only been beaten once and have only conceded a handful of goals.
Rogers’ career has gone from strength to strength since that 2008 season with Galway United. Most commentators would never have predicted such a direction for the once much beleaguered goalkeeper. He is now, deservedly, recognised as one of the very top goalkeepers in the division. A champion at Sligo Rovers and now deemed an acceptable replacement at a championship winning side in Dundalk.