ST PAT'S boss Liam Buckley says he's "gutted" for Saints midfielder Stephen Maher after his season was ended by a broken leg suffered in their vital league win over Derry City on Tuesday.
Maher had only come on as a second-half sub for Pat's in their 1-0 win away to Derry but was stretchered off after a collision with Derry man Pat Kavanagh – Maher was booked for his challenge on Kavanagh – and will not play again this season.
"It's a broken leg and that's a massive blow for Stephen, I am gutted for him," Buckley said. "In a way it was a 'good' break, if there is such a thing as he won't need an operation, he was due to be discharged from hospital in Derry last night and when we get him back to Dublin he will get all the attention he needs.
"It's a huge blow for us and for Stephen as he is an important part of our squad. He is a good lad with a strong will. I know he'll bounce back from this and be an important player again, it's just such a pity for him that he'll miss the rest of the season."
A former U21 cap, Dubliner Maher had lined out for Monaghan United last season but was without a club when he hooked up with Pats earlier this season.
He had to bide his time in getting a place in the Saints midfield but he scored the only goal of the game on his third league start, to give Pats a vital win at home to Shelbourne last month.
"Stephen was a great character to have around the club, he wasn't getting games as much as he'd have liked but he stayed patient and was professional all the way and it's such a pity that he won't be able to play for us again," added Buckley, pleased his side restored their two-point lead at the top.