Dundalk Michael's double delight as tot makes debut and team win shoot-out
The Dundalk FC player who missed his side's stunning win over Riga to be present for the birth of his first child has described becoming a dad as "a day I'll never forget".
Winger Michael Duffy (24) pulled out of the tie, which saw Dundalk win a 5-4 penalty shootout in the Champions League qualifier.
However, he said it was worth it to see his baby boy enter the world.
The player was sitting with team-mates at the boarding gate in Dublin Airport waiting to fly to Riga on Monday morning when he got the call from partner Emily McCarron (23) that she was being kept in hospital.
"I knew she was going in for a scan and there was a risk that I was going to have to do a U-turn from the airport," he said.
"But everyone just thought it's not going to happen as she wasn't due for another week and it's her first baby."
After a three-hour journey, he reached Emily in hospital and they then had a tense two days as staff tried to bring on her labour by induction.
Her waters finally broke on Wednesday, but despite spending several more hours in labour her consultant eventually made the decision to go with an emergency C-section.
"I was trying to watch the match while giving her gas and air. I had the volume up," Michael said.
"I'm surprised she didn't pick up the phone and launch it across the room."
Baby boy Eli Michael was born at 7.30pm, which Michael said was "the best feeling ever".
It also gave him just enough time to check the match.
"I roared when we scored the final penalty. It was a double celebration - a day I'll never forget," he said.
Mum and baby, meanwhile, are "doing brilliant".