Ardee soccer star Ross Gaynor has returned to the game five months on from leaving NIFL Premiership champions Linfield – signing for North East Football League Premier Division outfit Ardee Celtic.
In a 13 year career, Gaynor has turned out for Millwall, Drogheda United, Cobh Ramblers, Sporting Fingal, Dundalk, Sligo Rovers, Cork City and latterly Linfield north of the border. He helped David Healy’s side to a league and cup double in 2016/17 before ending his 18-month-stay at the Windsor Park outfit at the end of his contract.
Now, the 30-year-old has rejoined Ardee Celtic who he last turned out for when he was 16. He will play for Conor Lynch’s first team as they navigate their campaign in the top tier of the NEFL. Ross joins up with brother Darryn in the Celtic first-team-squad. Their brother Dean began the season with the Townparks club but has since left after picking up a scholarship at Trinity College. He now turns out for Dublin University AC.
Gaynor signed his papers with Ardee Celtic before the club’s narrow 0-1 defeat to Trim Celtic last month but has not been available to play as of yet with the club awaiting international clearance papers from Linfield.
Speaking to ThisIsArdee.ie, Gaynor says he is chomping at the bit to set started and set foot back on the soccer pitch.
“I’m raring to go. I’ve been sitting watching games and I’ve been playing a bit of Gaelic now, which is great. But to start again with the club where I started my career is amazing. There’s still faces that were there when I was there first.
“The facilities are top notch – you wouldn’t get these facilities at some League of Ireland clubs, so it was a no-brainer for me,” he said. “I’m sick of waiting. I want to get a game and get that buzz back.
“I’m excited to play with Darryn as well. I was blessed that I had two younger brothers who were very competitive and were good sports and that kind of drove me on and I drove them on. They’re good players.
“We have some very good young players at Ardee Celtic. The future is bright,” he added. As well as league duties, Ardee Celtic are fighting on several cup fronts this season, including the FAI Junior Cup. Gaynor believes a return to the Aviva Stadium, where he played for both Sligo Rovers and Cork City, could be on the cards.
“Hopefully we can make a run in one of the cups. I’d love to get back to the Aviva. That would be great. I don’t see why we couldn’t do it,” Ross stated. “It’s cup football, it’s one game. I don’t think many teams like coming out to the Bog.
“If we can get home ties, we can do very well.” Last week, fellow NEFL Premier Division side Bellurgan United beat Raheny United in a cup-giantkilling, just going to show what’s possible for the Deesiders and others.
On Thursday, the left-footer took to social to officially announce his ‘retirement’ from the game. “Loved every minute of my football career which had a lot of lows but some really great highs too,” he wrote.
“Thanks to everyone that ever cheered me on and gave me the support I truly needed over the years and a massive thank you to all my ex teammates! I’m extremely proud of the trophies I’ve accumulated over the seasons and to finish it all off with a treble winning season was the perfect end to my career!
“I’ve not decided to start my new career in banking with Permanent TSB and I’ve loved every minute so far! I’ll still be playing locally with Ardee Celtic and of course the St Marys in GAA. Thank you for the amazing memories.”
Gaynor has been lining out for Ardee St Marys Juniors in league and Championship action since the summer, also appearing on the senior team’s panel for their ill-fated Championship campaign in July and August. For the first time in his life, he is also getting to grips with the 9-5 grind in banking having left professional and semi-professtional soccer behind.
In an illustrious career in Ireland, Gaynor won the League of Ireland Premier Division, FAI Cup and Setanta Cup with Sligo Rovers, was a FAI Cup finalist with Cork City and won a treble north of the border with Linfield in 20161/17. He also represented four different clubs in UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League action, as well as turning out for Republic of Ireland Under 21s.
Gaynor and the club hope he’ll be available for the visit of St Kevin’s Boys in the next round of the Leinster Junior Cup next Friday.
Keep an eye out on ThisIsArdee.ie this weekend for a more in-depth interview with Ross, plus reaction from Ardee Celtic too.