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Friday 15 November 2019

From Anfield to Inchcore

Glen McAuley of St Patrick’s Athletic in action during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Cork City at Turners Cross last month
Glen McAuley of St Patrick’s Athletic in action during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Cork City at Turners Cross last month

His last challenge truly was a mission impossible, a teenager from Dublin trying to show he was as good as, or better than, someone like Mo Salah.

The task now for Tallaght lad Glen McAuley is more grounded, establishing himself in the team at St Patrick's Athletic and trying to push the Inchicore club high enough in the league table for them to play in Europe next season, the Saints playing under new manager Stephen O'Donnell for the first time tonight, away to Finn Harps.

McAuley (19) admits that, after ending his six-year stay with Liverpool earlier this summer, he's had to set new sights but the forward is convinced he's in the best place to try and make his career move up.

"I had some offers in England but my head wasn't in the right place to stay there, I wanted to be home with my family, back in Ireland, and coming to Pat's felt good right away," says McAuley. "I wanted to be back home, comfortable in my own bed, and Pat's allows me to do that."

The plan was for him to score goals in a red shirt but his vision was of that happening in the colours of Liverpool, not St Pat's. He spent a long time on Merseyside, learned his trade under Steven Gerrard and even, on occasion, training with the first team under Jurgen Klopp.

He was schooled in the game with Dublin clubs Cherry Orchard, Crumlin United and St Joseph's Boys, crediting coaches Mick Browne and Jim Crawford in particular with his development, but despite being chased by a number of cross-channel clubs, one training session at Liverpool convinced him to sign.

Initial progress was good, McAuley a regular scorer at U18 level but soon he found that even getting game time with the Reds' U23 side was tough.

"It's frustrating. It's good to be around those players but you're not guaranteed your place, as you have players coming down from the first team, you have Origi, who has scored in a Champions League final, coming down to the U23s," McAuley says.

"You could be named in the starting team with the U23s on a Friday but then a first-team player drops down and you are out of the side, there's nothing you can do about it."

At the end of last season, it was time to leave. "It was a mutual agreement I didn't want to be there any longer as I didn't see myself pushing on and I think they felt the same," he says.

"I feel it's so hard to get though, with the likes of Salah, Firminho and Mane there, no one is getting in front of them up front for Liverpool, I don't think the best players in the world would get in ahead of them at the moment so for an Irish boy of 19 over there, I don't think you have a chance."

Some players struggle with the demands of league football here but McAuley says he was able to drop right in.

"I was in to the team right away and that was the big thing for me, I couldn't do another year with the U23s over there, it's not real football. I learn a lot from the senior pros here, they all know the ins and outs of the league and they work as hard as they can. That's all I can do, work hard."

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