Dundee’s Rory Loy admits that Mark O’Hara has certainly made a big impression since he joined the club from Kilmarnock this summer – especially as he’s built like a “Greek God”.
Loy may have grabbed all the headlines after Saturday’s convincing win for the Dark Blues over Ross County in the Highlands thanks to his two-goal haul in his side’s 3-1 victory.
However, O’Hara, who while not quite “God-like” still produced an outstanding performance that had other mere mortals looking on in admiration, with County having no answer to the strapping six-footer’s powerful surges from midfield.
Loy paid tribute to the 20-year-old’s contribution in the Highlands – and also to his manager Paul Hartley who saw the potential in a player who had previously been considered a defender.
Loy said: “Mark O’Hara’s been brilliant. He came in and made a real impression.
“He makes an impression when he walks through the door. He’s built like a Greek God!
“He’s strong in the air and is the biggest in our team. He gives us that outlet and he’s a strong runner with the ball. Mark carries the ball well and sees things. He makes good runs forward. The gaffer spotted that in him early. The gaffer maybe does see things in boys that other managers don’t.”
The Dark Blues took the lead in the 13th minute when O’Hara burst into the Staggies box before producing a perfect cutback for Loy to clinically finish, stabbing home from close range past Scott Fox in the County goal.
Loy then doubled his tally and his side’s advantage four minutes before the break.
Michael Duffy sent a corner in from the Dundee left with the home side’s James McEveley making a clumsy push on O’Hara with referee Bobby Madden having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Loy stepped up to take the penalty and dispatched it in emphatic fashion past Fox.
The game was well and truly put to bed in the 62nd minute with a counter-attacking goal of the highest quality.
A County shot was blocked with the ball breaking to Loy who quickly switched play to the right to Duffy. He then squared the ball to Paul McGowan who made no mistake, calmly slotting underneath Fox’s body from the edge of the box to make it three for Dundee.
The home side did pull one back in the 67th minute when a Liam Boyce shot was turned in by substitute Craig Curran.
Loy could not hide his pleasure at getting the league season off to a perfect start at what has always been a tricky venue for his side.
He added: “It was some effort all round. The pitch didn’t look too big at the start of the game but it certainly did by the end!
“It’s a great result and a great effort from everyone involved. We’re not the biggest team but we have a lot of fight and I think that showed.
“The start of the season is a clean slate for everyone and you want to get off the mark. You want to start well.
“Last season was frustrating for me. I started well and then had a few niggling injuries. Kane (Hemmings) came in and did so well. It was a stop-start season for me.
“I spent some time out wide as well so it was good to get up top and bang in a couple of goals.
“I want to put down a marker, of course. I contributed last year and I like to think it would be the same this year. As long as I’m out there playing and doing well then I’m happy.”
Dundee’s attention now switches to next Saturday’s first home league game of the season at Dens against Rangers.
Former Light Blues player Loy admits it’s good to have the Glasgow side back in the top tier – even if that means it makes it harder for Dundee to achieve a top-six finish.
He said: “We want to take points off everyone so we’re fully focused on next week.
“It’s definitely big for the league to have Rangers back. I played against them umpteen times in the Championship with Falkirk.
“Having been there as well I know what a big club it is. To have them back competing makes it even tougher for that top six spot.”
“No disrespect to Dundee United, but Rangers are just a much stronger outfit. They’ll undoubtedly be in the top six so it makes it tighter. We’ll wait and see how it all pans out.”