Stunning goal 'lift' for Fahey
Pats' prodigal son savours winner against Sligo securing inaugural President's Cup
HE INSISTS that a recall to the Ireland squad is not his sole aim and even says that he finds it embarrassing to be mentioned as being spied on or snubbed by the national team's management.
But if Keith Fahey keeps up his habit of scoring spectacular goals for St Patrick's Athletic, the focus will swing right back on to the Dubliner, who underlined his class once again when his goal meant that Pats started off the 2014 season on a winning note.
Fahey nicked a special goal in the relative obscurity of a Leinster Senior Cup match against Dundalk last month but there was a pretty special guestlist (President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, former Ireland captains Roy Keane and John Giles) at Richmond Park yesterday to witness a beauty of a goal from Fahey, that strike earning the Saints a 1-0 win over Sligo Rovers in the inaugural President's Cup.
"That's a nice little record I have now with Pats, I have scored in the last few games. It was a nice way to start the season. It was a tough game, a good win though we ground it out in the end," said Fahey after the game, his goal allowing Pats' captain, Ger O'Brien, the privilege of accepting the trophy from President Higgins.
"It was a good win as Sligo will be up there this season, we still have a bit of work to do and we are not motoring at 100 per cent."
Fahey received a great reaction from the Pats fans after his goal and there was another ovation when he was replaced by Lee Lynch in the final 10 minutes, but it's clear from his own demeanour that the 31-year-old is pleased to be home again.
"I said before Christmas that I needed a lift. Everyone else was delighted that I had signed but I needed a lift for myself and this has given me that, I just want to continue," added the former Birmingham City man.
Aware that O'Neill and Keane were at the game, Fahey says he is fed up with persistent talk of a recall. "It's a little bit embarrassing, to be honest, I would like it to be left there and I am not putting my name forward.
"It's not a case of me putting my name forward and being rejected, I would prefer I wasn't mentioned again," he conceded.
Fahey was not unique in his status as a player with senior international experience – Sligo star Joseph Ndo (Cameroon) also has caps on his CV – but the Dubliner was the man who made the difference on the day.
The game was only warming up when Fahey struck with what proved to be the winning goal. Conan Byrne's corner was cleared by Ndo but his weak clearance went only as far as Fahey, and his well-struck effort gave keeper Richard Brush no chance.
The Sligo fans expected a response from their side but despite the promptings of Ndo in midfield it was Pats who held a grip on the game, with further efforts in the first half from U21 cap Christopher Forrester and Killian Brennan.
Sligo showed early in the second half they had something to contribute as Pats needed a block from defender Kenny Browne to prevent ex-Saint Danny North from levelling, and on 55 minutes a slip in the box from Ian Bermingham gifted an opportunity to John Russell but his effort was wide, while three minutes later Pats needed keeper Brendan Clarke's alertness to dent Russell.
But Pats were in the lead and in control, the Saints finishing strongly with the added advantage of throwing attackers Mark Quigley and Daryl Kavanagh into the action.
So Pats – who have not exactly been cup specialists recently as their last FAI Cup success was back in 1961 – start the new season with some silverware on board, and there is more to come, says manager Liam Buckley.
"It was tight overall and a draw might have been a fair result but we are delighted to have a trophy under our belts," Buckley said.
"We are six weeks into pre-season but there is still a bit of work to be done.
"And it was a fantastic strike from Keith Fahey, you won't see better.
"It has been a great start to the season from him and if he keeps up that ratio I will be more than happy."