WITH Kevin Doyle and Keith Fahey no longer in the frame for the national team here, St Patrick's Athletic fans imagined they would have to wait a long, long time to see one of their former players have the chance to play at a major finals, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.
But Ryan Guy (inset), a hero to the Inchicore faithful from his spell with the Saints (2007-10) has helped his small nation of Guam take some very big steps towards the 2018 World Cup finals with two wins in the space of a week, the most recent a 2-1 defeat of India yesterday, and League of Ireland veteran Guy started in both games.
It may come as a surprise to fans and players of European nations that the road to qualification for the next World Cup (in Russia) has already begun, as the group draw for the European section of qualifying will only be made in St Petersburg next month, but the Asian section of qualification has already started.
Last Friday, Guam kicked off their qualification bid with a 1-0 win at home to Turkmenistan, and last night they didn't cower when faced with the prospect of playing India, Guam winning 2-1.
Whatever about their footballing strengths, in population size it was a David v Goliath battle, little Guam (population 165,000) up against India (1.2 billion) but those who defend Ireland's poor displays on the international stage by moaning about the small size of our population should read those figures and weep.
"It was a fantastic win," Guy said, his side now on a break from the qualifiers before they regroup in September, Oman and Iran also in their qualifying group.
California native Guy arrived at St Pats at the start of the 2007 season, and while he failed to land any trophies in his three seasons as a Saint, he played a big part in their successful European runs and his goal in Latvia (2008) earned Pats their first-ever away win in Europe.
2018 World Cup