Hughes keen to see long journey reach Cup pinnacle
PHILIP HUGHES has no problem with being labelled a journeyman footballer. "I think you'd be quicker naming teams I haven't played for," he laughs.
For the Shelbourne striker, who quite appropriately doubles his football commitments with his day job in Irish Rail, there's a sense that he has finally reached his intended destination this weekend.
A big day out at the Aviva Stadium is a fitting reward for the 30-year-old, who can list St Francis, St Pat's, Kilkenny, Kildare County (three times), Dublin City, UCD, Monaghan (twice) and Dundalk as his previous LOI employers. And this is his second stint with Shels.
"I've enjoyed it," he says, "I've made a lot of friends out of the game and I've no regrets."
He acknowledges that fortune has played a massive part in setting up Sunday's showdown with Sligo.
Shels were knocked out of the competition by Sheriff YC in the round of 16 but were reinstated after it emerged that the junior club had fielded an ineligible player.
"My own personal feeling was that I was very sorry for Sheriff," reflects Hughes. "They played very well, and it was harsh to be thrown out of the cup, but we were given the chance and we took the chance.
"I never bought into that 'name on the cup' thing, but Robbie Horgan (ex-LOI goalkeeper) rang me up and he was saying to me that with the run we've had... it looks like our name is on the cup.
"But Sligo are a great side and they're a different obstacle than St Pat's. We probably won't have the ball. They'll have 70 to 80pc of it and we'll just have to keep their goals to a minimum and just try to nick one or two ourselves."
Either way, it will be a special day out. Hughes is an old school League of Ireland footballer in the sense that he stayed working while others dabbled with professionalism and substantial wages. Indeed, at Lansdowne Road he will come up against his former neighbour in Cabra, Jason McGuinness, who plays the game for his living.
"I never really thought about it," he says. "The job I have is a job for life really and the money you get in the League of Ireland wouldn't be enough to tempt me away from it."
Still, if all goes to plan this weekend, he could have memories to last a lifetime.