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Shels ace Paisley stirred by magic of cup

IN THE summer of 2000, a batch of five Irish lads made their way to England, hoping for fame and glory with Manchester City.

For some, a taste of the big time did come as two of City's Irish crop went on to play in the top flight in England and also play for their country (Glenn Whelan and Stephen Elliott).

Stephen Paisley missed out on the financial excesses of the Premier League, but the former Cherry Orchard man's been busy writing his own story and he can add another remarkable chapter on Sunday if he can help Shelbourne overcome Sligo Rovers at Lansdowne Road and join that rare band of players to win FAI Cup winners medals with three different clubs.

"Winning the Cup with Shels on Sunday would mean the world to me," says Paisley. "Your ambitions change in football over the course of time. When I went to England as a kid, my dream was to play for Manchester City and to play for Ireland.

"Circumstances change and things work out differently so you get a new set of ambitions for yourself. It's great to see Whelo (Glenn Whelan) play in the Premier League and play for Ireland, he's trying to help Ireland get to the European Championship finals and I'd love to see him do that.


"To me, there's no bigger game in Irish football than the FAI Cup final, and for me it's all about winning the Cup on Sunday, to win it a fourth time would be incredible.

"This is a great group of players, they are all hard workers with some brilliant young players like Kevin Dawson and John Sullivan, and it would be a great reward for them to win the Cup," added Paisley, who joined Shels in 2010 after a short spell out of the game.

"I have been fortunate in the FAI Cup so far, I won it twice with Longford Town and once with Sporting Fingal," Paisley says.

"I think the Fingal win was more special to me personally because I was captain of the team and I got to lift the trophy, that was an amazing experience."

While Paisley's old team-mate from the Manchester City days, Glenn Whelan, gets himself ready for a busy bout of international action in the Euro 2012 play-off next week, Paisley will be back to the day job, as a Graduate Dealer with Bank of Ireland's global markets section.


Like so many Irish youngsters who try their luck abroad, Paisley went to England without real qualifications so when he came back to Ireland and played for Longford Town, one of the first decisions he made was to sit his Leaving Cert. Not an easy thing to do, for a 21-year-old to sit in a classroom again with a bunch of kids four years younger than him.

"It's hard, playing football and trying to study but it paid off," says Paisley, who took a degree and ended up with his present job at Bank of Ireland, and is grateful to his employers for facilitating his time off to fulfil his duty to Shels.

Even in the world of finance, there's a touch of history, as he was reminded this week in the office that one of his work colleagues, Dave Tilson, has his own story of FAI Cup glory, scoring the winner for Bohemians in the 1992 Cup final.

Of course Sligo are favourites on Sunday. But favourites don't always win cups. "In the 2004 final, Waterford were 1-0 up against us with five minutes to go but we won 2-1," Paisley recalls.

"Then with Fingal, we were 1-0 down against Sligo but won 2-1, so that's the nature of football.

"Sligo more or less had two hands on the Cup but we got the winner with the last kick of the game. A Cup final can turn in a second."