Tuesday 25 September 2018

No caps in hand

Fagan pleased with cap for his old pal Danny but Ireland call not due

St Patrick’s Athletic striker Christy Fagan, pictured in action against Bohemians. Photo: Sportsfile
St Patrick’s Athletic striker Christy Fagan, pictured in action against Bohemians. Photo: Sportsfile

He would be more than happy to answer Ireland's call if the day ever came, but Christy Fagan did not spend his weekend sitting by the phone, hoping.

Martin O'Neill's Ireland squad were very light on strikers for Tuesday's friendly against Slovakia with only one recognised centre forward available, Shane Long.

Mick McCarthy and Steve Staunton did, at times, look to the League of Ireland when strikers were thin on the ground, with call-ups for lads like Stephen Geoghegan, Glen Crowe and Jason Byrne.

A case could have been made (see panel) for Fagan to get the nod for an injury-hit squad, the forward in fine form with St Patrick's Athletic this season.

But the 26-year-old shrugs away any suggestion of a call-up. "There was no talk of it as far as I was concerned and, being honest, I would never expect it," says Fagan.

He does have internatkional experience as the ex-Manchester United man was capped twice at U21 level in 2009, in the same side as senior stars such as Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, David Meyler and Alan Judge.

"I'm realistic enough to know that it's a big jump from the league here to the international team. It would be nice to see someone from the league get the nod, I feel there are some players who are good enough to go on, but there was no question of me holding out to get the nod, even for a late call-up.

"I think it will be a while before you see a League of Ireland player in the national team again, you have so many players around in the Championship and League One who will get the nod first, lads like Paddy Madden."

Yet international football did enter his mind in recent days as some of his former team-mates from the Manchester United academy are stepping up, Danny Welbeck and Danny Drinkwater appearing for England last week, sparking memories of that United youth side of 2007.

"A few of the papers did a 'where are they now' piece about that team because of Danny Drinkwater making his England debut," says Fagan.

"You have me playing back home in Ireland, a few lads in League One and League Two, one lad in Iceland. It's good to see how lads get on. I always felt that Danny Drinkwater and Danny Welbeck had ability but at 17-18 you don't know how it will pan out. We had a great youth team and everyone had ability but the ones who were tipped to do well didn't fulfil their potential, others came though later, like Drinkwater and his international debut at 26, the same age as me."

Caps are off the menu but goals remain part of his diet. as Fagan is enjoying the best run of form in his six-year League of Ireland career, four goals in four games. "I'm playing well and getting good service, that always helps," he says.

Pats are hoping to get back to form after last week's humiliating 4-0 loss at home to Dundalk, a night when Fagan and the side were out of sorts. "I think I picked up a bug from the baby at home so that did me in," says Fagan. "I had been on antibiotics before the game and I thought I'd be ok but I was just drained. I got sick in the warm-up and at half time I knew I had to come off, I just wasn't right. It was a bad night for me and for the team so we'd hope to do better tonight up in Donegal."

The Saints have been erratic this season, the side so clinical in their wins over Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers but then looking like a different team in home defeats to Galway United (1-3) and Dundalk (0-4).

"We were poor on the first weekend of the league, we had three good wins after that but last week was poor, that's maybe a lesson for us not to get carried away with a few wins," says Fagan.

"Losing 4-0 at home to the champions is a marker of where we are and where we want to be, if we are going to challenge Dundalk and Cork this season we'll need to do a lot better than that. Dundalk have been the strongest team in the league for the last two seasons and they're up there again this year, it's no fluke.

"We knew we had catching up to do from last season, and we're still trying to do that."

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