Rene Gilmartin's approach a hit with new Plymouth Argyle boss
THE CHARACTER of 6ft 5in goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin, as much as his playing ability, was what convinced Plymouth Argyle manager Carl Fletcher to snap him up.
The 25-year-old was a free agent after being released by Championship club Watford at the end of last season and has signed a two-year contract with the Pilgrims.
Gilmartin made seven appearances for Watford, with five of them coming in cup competitions, during his two years at Vicarage Road.
He was primarily the understudy to highly-rated keeper Scott Loach, although he had loan spells at Yeovil and Crawley last term.
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Fletcher said: "All the reports we got back on him, everyone couldn't speak highly enough about him as a person.
"His workrate, attitude and professionalism is second to none, and those are the kind of players we want here."
Gilmartin is one of three keepers in Argyle's squad, along with Jake Cole and Ollie Chenoweth.
Cole started 37 of the Pilgrims' 46 games in League Two in 2011/12 after signing from Barnet last summer.
Chenoweth, 20, is a graduate of the club's youth set-up and made his debut in the 2-2 draw away to Morecambe at the end of April.
Fletcher insisted there would be an open competition among the trio of shot-stoppers to be Argyle's number one come the start of the season.
He said: "Jake did great for us last season and Ollie emerged and got his first start, which was great for him, and he's still progressing as a goalie.
"Now Rene has come in and it's great from our point of view that we have got three goalies who are all pushing for that number one spot."
Chenoweth had a loan spell with Conference South club Truro City last season, who are managed by former Pilgrims' favourite Lee Hodges.
Despite Chenoweth's young age, Fletcher insisted the Cornish shot-stopper would be given an opportunity to stake a first team claim.
He said: "Everyone is here for pre-season and it's a chance for everyone to impress, whether they are 17, like Matty Lecointe is, or they are 68 like Pursey (defender Darren Purse) is!"
The Argyle squad reported for the start of pre-season training on Wednesday, when they completed a three-run lap around Central Park.
Yesterday, they played some small-sided games at UCP Marjon, did a weights session at Home Park and then went swimming in the Life Centre.
Fletcher admitted he had a 'good break' over the summer, but was ready and raring for the new campaign.
He said: "I don't think you ever switch off completely, but I spent some time with the family, who were kind of neglected all of last season.
"It was good, but I'm glad to get back," added the 32-year-old former Wales international.
The fully-prepared and professional start to pre-season training this year is in stark contrast to 12 months ago.
Then, Argyle were still in administration, the club's employees were not being paid and there was not enough players to make up a team, let alone a squad.
Fletcher said: "We didn't even know what kit we would be having, so it's a big difference now.
"We have been working hard in the off season to make sure everything is right.
"We have changed a few bits. We have got the changing room redone thanks to Gary (McGuire) from the Green Taverners, who helped us with that.
"His guys worked long hours to get that finished for us.
"When the players come back in and see things have been done that little bit nicer and fresher, it makes them feel better and helps for a better environment around the place.
"We have got a good team spirit and for a lot of the lads it's like they have never been away.
"Now it's time to get down to the hard work, but we try to make it as different as possible so we don't get bored with it."