LIAM BUCKLEY has revealed that Ireland international Keith Fahey – the "marquee signing" of the close season according to the St Patrick's Athletic boss – made the first approach about a possible return to Richmond Park.
Fahey was a free agent following his exit from Birmingham City last summer, as the 31-year-old tried to overcome the injuries which had halted his career.
He had been training with League One side Sheffield United with a view to a move there, there was interest from clubs in Singapore and Australia, and Shamrock Rovers also made an offer, but Fahey made it clear that Inchicore was the place to be as he tries to get his career back on track following a frustrating 18 months.
And the deal wasn't conducted through agents and intermediaries but was sparked by a simple call from Fahey, who was back in Dublin working on his rehab in recent months, to ask Buckley if Pat's would have him back to the club where his career took off in 2003.
"I would have got a call from Keith, just asking me if I was interested in having a chat and I said, absolutely," says Buckley.
"I knew he was home but I wasn't sure if he was going to play here or not because he had been over at Sheffield United and there was a few other clubs interested in him so I met up with him and as soon as I met up with him I was sure he was going to sign for St Pat's.
"When Keith made up his mind that he was coming back here, to get settled in and back playing, Pat's were an obvious choice for him bearing in mind the years he spent here in the past.
"He's very popular – he was down playing the drums with the fans at one game last year. He's loved by the fans and I think he's been appreciative of what Pat's have done for him over the years," added the Saints boss.
"It's brilliant for the league, it's brilliant for St Pat's. For me personally, having a player of that calibre in the group is great, I've no doubt that his experience will rub off.
"He's in his early thirties now and I have no doubt that he'll have an impact on our season this year; we just need to get him fit.
"His problem over the last six months or so has been the fitness end of things, we feel that we'll get him back playing, we'll look at his programme between now and the start of March and we'll make sure that we get him back playing.
"It is a big signing, there's no doubt about that given where he's come from, he did play against Germany, what was it, 18 months ago? But in fairness to him, if he can play at anything like that level, he'll be a serious addition to the league."