Gilmartin relishing dual role as goalkeeping coach and keeper
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Rene Gilmartin made his first league appearance for more than five-and-a-half years, ironically replacing his ‘pupil’ Dillon Barnes in goal, for Colchester United’s 3-1 home win over Crawley Town on Saturday.
Gilmartin was a surprise inclusion in the side, the U’s goalkeeping coach having not played a league game since an outing for Plymouth against Accrington Stanley on January 26, 2013. That game ended in a goalless draw, although Gilmartin was replaced before half-time due to a hamstring injury.
Since then, the Dubliner has largely developed his role as a goalkeeping coach, in addition to being a back-up keeper at his former club Watford, and more recently with the U’s.
But the 31-year-old has never decided to hang up his gloves, in terms of competitive action, and he marked his 66th league game (91st in all competitions) with a fine showing against Crawley.
Gilmartin would love to play more games, although he is just as committed to the other side of his job – developing the other younger keepers on the U’s books.
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“I enjoyed it a lot. I had a job to do for the team,” said Gilmartin.
“I’ll speak to the coaches and I will go through my performance. I want to develop my game, but I also want to develop the other keepers at this football club.
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“It was a bit ironic that I was playing against another keeper, Glenn Morris, who is in the exact same position – he’s a goalkeeping coach at Crawley Town as well.
“That’s the contract I have signed, to be a player-coach. I will focus on both roles.
“I have bided my time because Sam Walker (former U’s No.1) was doing so well last season. He did superbly, and now he’s broken into the Reading side.
“And with Dillon Barnes, I’ve had good exposure with him and he has done really well. He’s put in some good performances as a young man getting his first taste of league football.
“So there are two sides to my job, and I have to do both as well as I can, though of course personally I was delighted to make my league debut for Colchester.
“I want to play football – that’s not being selfish as far as the other keepers are concerned, it’s whatever the team needs.
“Dillon has been superb, even in his reaction to going out of the team. He was annoyed, but he knows my purpose of being here is to develop him and the other keepers, who all have potential. It’s up to me to get the most out of them,” said Gilmartin.