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Fog' rising at Lilywhites

IT was the question on everyone's lips as his second-half cameo helped Kildare down Tyrone in the Division Two National League final; just who is this Pádraig Fogarty?

Viewed as a squad player who had been given little chance to shine, the giant St Laurence's man shot to public prominence with a swagger with his match-winning contribution against the Red Hand men.

Mickey Harte's men seemed to have got to grips with the Lilywhites until Fogarty entered the fray, stylishly kicking three points from play, earning two converted frees and hitting the post.

Pressure will now build on Fogarty being viewed as the natural free-scoring forward Kildare have crave so badly, but the quiet 20-year-old won't be getting carried away with himself.

"It was just a bit of luck on the day that the three points went over for me," he told the Evening Herald.

"Another day you could be the worst in the world and they all go wide. I've still got a lot of work to do between now and the first round if I want to be in the frame.

"There's a lot of competition there, everyone's going well, so I'm just concentrating on making the 26."

Under-21 commitments and illness meant that Fogarty had limited opportunities to impress Kieran McGeeney and his backroom staff, so he understands how important it is to take his chance because they may not come around too often. "I played against Monaghan earlier on in the year, the under-21 championship came then so I was away for a couple of weeks and unfortunately we lost against Offaly.

"When I came back, the senior team was going well and then it's hard to change the first 15.

"I got a run-out against Westmeath and then against Tyrone as well so when you get the opportunity you just have to take it.

"Earlier in the season, during the O'Byrne Cup against Offaly, I was due to start but I caught a dose in the week and couldn't play, I was raging over it. It was a sickener to be told you're starting and then having to ring Kieran to tell him you can't play.

"The DCU game that was called off, I was due to start that day, so there have been a few occasions when things have not gone my way and it really wrecks the head.

"You'd be thinking is your first start ever going to come. It was just a matter of having to be patient."

Leinster first-round defeats to Louth and Wicklow in recent years mean that the Lilywhites will certainly not be taking anything for granted when they take on Offaly in Portlaoise this Sunday.

"We're training very hard at the minute, Offaly are going to be tough. We've always found it difficult to beat them in the Leinster championship," Fogarty said.

"We just have to concentrate on ourselves and hopefully on the day things will go our way.

"At the start of every year Kildare people are dreaming of success, but we're not looking past Offaly and if we beat them we can turn our attention to the next round.

"Twice in the last four years we've been knocked out in the first round so we know there's no such thing as an easy championship game.

"There won't be much in it at the end of 70 minutes."

Fogarty has been involved with the Kildare squad for just over a year, and there are no prizes for guessing what player has had the greatest influence on his game.

"The obvious one is Johnny Doyle. You'd be going into training and he'll be the only one out on the pitch taking frees and shooting.

"His effort in training. If we're doing runs, he's winning every one of them.

"His overall general play in games. He's the one you have to look up to. If there are any problems, he's the one, he's easy to talk to."

Fogarty is also benefiting from the tutelage of McGeeney who has achieved almost everything the game has to offer.

"If there is anything you need you can go to him.

"If he sees a problem with your game he'll tell you and you just have to take everything he says on board," Fogarty adds.

"When you take it and work on it you'll find your game improving.

"He's a good man, very professional and a great manager to play under."