Persistence and patience pay dividends for Ireland's scoring hero
KEITH FAHEY last night reflected on a whirlwind weekend full of good wishes after his match-winning contribution in Armenia on Friday.
The Dubliner received hundreds of text messages congratulating him for his decisive strike just eight minutes into his competitive Irish debut as a substitute.
He also managed to drop in on his cousin Monique's wedding in Finnstown House on Saturday, temporarily upstaging the bride and groom on their big day. Special memories all round and, a year after his father's passing, the occasion has special resonance.
"It was very emotional for me," admitted Fahey. "It's just a great feeling for me and my family. I went to the wedding for half an hour and my dad's brothers were delighted.
"I didn't want to be turning up when they had just started their dinner, so we got it rigged so I could just present a picture to Finnstown House -- I just nipped in between courses. I got a great round of applause and she was delighted, it was great to be able to congratulate them."
A good night's sleep on Saturday brought back a degree of normality, although after tomorrow's game with Andorra he'll look into the business of having his shirt from Friday framed.
Certainly, they are momentous times for an individual who, less than two years ago, was plying his trade with St Patrick's Athletic and wondering if he had a future in professional football amid the League of Ireland's financial woes.
"My close friends were telling me to look at something else, apart from football," he recalls, "I'd seen a few players go away (from the league to England) and that kind of hurt me a bit. I thought 'I'm a better player than them'."
"I said I'd give it one more bash and luckily it worked out. I don't think I would have tried anything else either, because I couldn't see myself doing anything else," adds the 27-year-old, who is grateful for the role St Patrick's Athletic played in his rehabilitation after coming home from England as a teenager having failed to settle with both Arsenal and Aston Villa.
"Everyone down at Pat's, the fans, the players, the staff were very good to me. The league was very good to me. The PFAI, everyone. They looked after me in a sense. I enjoyed my football. It got me back enjoying my football and that was the main thing."
Fahey trained with the Ireland squad in Malahide yesterday, with Paul McShane now in with the party for the Andorran game having missed the Armenian adventure with a hamstring problem. Everyone trained yesterday, with assistant Marco Tardelli unsure if Giovanni Trapattoni will make any changes for tomorrow's encounter.