Romain Larrieu excited by Rene Gilmartin's signing with Plymouth Argyle
NEW signing Rene Gilmartin will bring 'competition' to Argyle's goalkeeping options, insisted assistant manager Romain Larrieu.
Irishman Gilmartin becomes Plymouth Argyle boss Carl Fletcher's second signing of the summer after the former Watford shot-stopper agreed a two-year deal with the League Two club.
Larrieu said Gilmartin had been 'a target for some time' and helps to realise the Pilgrims' ambitions of having competition for places in all positions.
The 25-year-old Gilmartin, capped at under-21 level for the Republic of Ireland, joins striker Paris Cowan-Hall – signed from Woking last month – on the Pilgrims' pay-roll and makes Fletcher's squad 24-players strong.
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The strapping 6ft 5in shot-stopper moves to the South West as a free agent having left Championship club Watford at the end of last season.
Ironically, the 25-year-old replaces recently-retired Argyle goalkeeping legend Larrieu and he will compete for a place between the sticks with Jake Cole and Ollie Chenoweth.
And Larrieu anticipates an exciting rivalry for the number one spot between Cole, Gilmartin and Chenoweth, which is exactly what the Frenchman and Fletcher want.
Larrieu told Herald Sport: "Rene comes here with a very good reputation as a goalkeeper and as a person and I welcome him to Home Park.
"Like every good footballer in whatever position you play, Rene wants to establish himself as the best choice for the manager.
"I know from experience that competition keeps everyone on their toes and that if you drop your standards a little someone will step in to take over.
"But Rene knows that Jake (Cole) and Ollie (Chenoweth) are also ambitious and good at their jobs, so it will make for an interesting rivalry for that goalkeeping spot.
"I will help with technical aspects but so far as the competition goes, they will have to sort it out for themselves as to who will be the number one."
Dubliner Gilmartin has bags of experience, having started his professional football career at Walsall in 2005, after playing for his local club St Kevin's Boys.
Gilmartin made 39 appearance for Walsall while he also spent time away from the Bescot Stadium on loan at both Worcester City and Hednesford Town.
He joined Watford in the summer of 2010 from Walsall but found his opportunities limited with the Hornets, due to the excellent form of England international Scott Loach.
He made seven appearances for the Vicarage Road side and last season went out on loan to Yeovil Town and also to newly-promoted League One side Crawley Town.
Gilmartin, who kept five clean sheets in his 15 appearances for the two clubs, was given a positive reference from Argyle midfielder Paul Wotton.
The Irishman and Wotton were team-mates last season at League One Yeovil and the former left a favourable impression on the Plymothian.
"Wottsie was one of the people we asked about Rene and he gave us a sound reference," added Larrieu.
"He said that Rene played very well at League One level and so he should be just as good at League Two level.
"Wottsie also said that he was a good bloke to have around which fitted in with what others had told us.
"But, to be fair, we'd had him watched before and Wottsie just reinforced what Carl and me felt we knew about Rene."
Former Argyle loanee Ashley Hemmings has joined Walsall on a two-year contract after being released by Championship Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The 21-year-old striker spent most of last season at Home Park on loan from then Premiership club Wolves.
The tricky left-sided Hemmings scored two goals in 23 appearances, including 18 starts, to help Argyle steer clear of relegation to non-league football.
Hemmings became a firm favourite with the Green Army but was never offered a permanent deal by Argyle.
He is League One Saddlers' first signing of the summer.