Friday 19 January 2018

Former Saint Fahey intent on rewarding Trap's show of faith

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

YOU can take the player out of St Patrick's Athletic, but you can't take St Pat's out of the player.

And that's why Irish international Keith Fahey has his fingers crossed for double delight on behalf of his country and his former club.

First on the agenda for the Dubliner is the decision by Giovanni Trapattoni on the line-up and team formation for tomorrow night's World Cup qualifier against mighty Germany at the Aviva Stadium.

If Trap goes as expected with three in central midfield, Fahey has staked his claim by operating in that role with his club Birmingham City over the last few weeks.

Then he hopes and prays that the Super Saints can finally break their FAI Cup hoodoo in the final on November 4.

Club commitments with Birmingham permitting, Fahey will be here to see the final, but the immediate priority is the visit of Germany.

A persistent groin injury disrupted his club and international career and kept Fahey out of contention for the Euro 2012 finals but once he was fit and playing again, Trap came calling.


And if Trapattoni had any doubts about the desire of Fahey to get into the thick of the action, they were removed by the player's statement of intent.

"He's shown faith in calling me into the squad straight away and he's kept tabs on me through my rehab," Fahey said.

"Since I've been involved he's not left me out. It's great that he has shown faith in me.

"I've made no secret I want to play. I'm not here to just go along for the sake of it -- I want to play. If he picks me I'm more than willing."

Fahey can't take anything for granted, despite Marco Tardelli and Trapattoni name-checking him earlier in the week as a likely midfield candidate for the match.

The two wily Italians have thrown dummies to the media in the past about individual players only to pull an unexpected name out of the hat when they actually reveal the starting XI.

Fingers crossed, then, is the name of the game for the 29-year-old, whose last appearance came as a late sub against Estonia in the Euro 2012 play-off second leg in Dublin 11 months ago.

That 12-minute cameo was enough to qualify Fahey for his 15th cap, but he only has eyes for the future as the changing of the guard in the Irish camp means new opportunities.

"When senior players leave the group there's got to be another line of senior players to step up," he said.

"It is a bit of a transition period but there is definitely quality in the squad as well."

If we're talking quality, then Germany have it with a capital 'Q' so how does Fahey view the contest?

"You have to try and win your home games, but a draw wouldn't be a disaster," he said.

"You have to look at other results as well in the group and a point is better than not getting anything at all, but it's going to be a tough game anyway.

"It's going to be hard to get the ball back off them, and when we do get it you want to keep it."

Ex-St Pat's stalwart John McDonnell, who worked alongside Brian Kerr in the Faroe Islands, underlined that message to Fahey.

"Johnny McDonnell was speaking to someone in the Faroes who played Italy last year, and compared to Italy, Germany were far different -- they couldn't get the ball off them," said Fahey.

"For us it will be about working on shape, being solid and having an attacking option when we can. Most importantly I'd say we need a good shape against them."

And a last word on the Saints' hopes of landing the FAI Cup for the first time since 1961?

Fahey, who played in the 2003 final defeat to Longford -- a miserable day, he was sent off -- said: "If they don't win it this year, I don't think they'll ever win it."

"Everyone's going to talk about the time-frame and we haven't won it. That could be a little hoodoo of its own. If I was involved I wouldn't want to even talk about that.

"I try to watch them when I can, and I look forward to having a spell there (at Pat's) before the end of my career.

"Hopefully it's a few years away yet."

Irish Independent

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