Friday 20 April 2018

Moloney hoping to repay Forest's faith with interest

Kerry's Brendan Moloney has dreams of Premier League football, writes Seán Ryan

BRENDAN MOLONEY is hoping that history will repeat itself in this year's Championship play-offs -- and that he will make a little piece of history himself.

This time last year, Blackpool came with a late run to finish sixth, qualify for the play-offs, and then won the play-off final. Instrumental to that late run was an Irishman, right-back Seamus Coleman.

This year, Moloney, also a right-back, finds himself in the same situation. After missing most of the season, he returned to the Nottingham Forest team last month and helped them to a strong finish, which saw them clinch sixth place to qualify for the play-offs.

While last Thursday's 0-0 draw at home to a Swansea City team reduced to 10 men from the second minute might be seen as a disappointing result, it is still all to play for at the Liberty Stadium tomorrow night.

Manager Billy Davies kept faith in Moloney for this vital game, and the young man from Killarney is now only two games away from making history by becoming the first Premier League player from the Kingdom.

Although Gaelic football also figured in his early days, as one would expect, Moloney admits: "When I was younger I just wanted to make it as a professional footballer."

He was playing for Killarney Athletic when he was chosen for the Irish schoolboys, and was then offered the chance to play for Dublin club, Belvedere Boys.

As far as Moloney was concerned, it was a no-brainer. "It was an opportunity to get noticed, playing in the DDSL. There are not many scouts going down to Kerry."

For one season, he travelled to Dublin by train every Saturday morning to train with Belvedere, stayed overnight, and played a game on Sunday morning before returning home on Sunday afternoon.

It was a tough schedule, but it paid off. "I was in third year and didn't miss any school, and then when the scouts come looking for me, I moved to Forest because I was able to continue my education there."

At 22, Moloney has experienced the ups and downs of football ever since he made his debut for Forest in League One four years ago. The following season, Forest were promoted but he spent most of that season on loan to Chesterfield.

He had a good run in the team in their first season back in the Championship, but was sent out on loan again, to neighbouring Notts County last season, and helped them to win the League Two title.

That was his first medal as a professional, but it was followed by a serious injury suffered on loan with Scunthorpe United, which kept him out of action for nearly five months.

"I was playing left-back for Scunthorpe, but injured the medial ligament in my knee in my third game, just when I was looking forward to a good run in that position. The more positions you can play in the better.

"That was a frustrating time, but you just have to get the rehab done. I was fortunate that when I got back it was just before pre-season so I had that to get fit.

"Then, of course, Chris Gunter had the jersey and he had been brilliant, so I was on the bench and playing for the reserves to keep up my match fitness.

"I finally got in when Chris was given a rest, and I had to take my chance. I played six games for Forest this year, not as many as I'd like, but that's part of being a footballer."

Moloney's introduction coincided with some good results and a strong finish to the campaign by Forest. Specially pleasing for him was the assist he gave for the crucial second goal against Crystal Palace on the last day of the season.

"It's always nice to get an assist. I try to put the ball in a dangerous area and hope the striker gets to it. After all that running up and down the wing, it's important to have some end product."

In that regard, he seems to be cast from the same mould as his former Irish under 21 team-mate Coleman, a player he hopes to emulate.

"Seamus got his chance with Everton and he has done brilliantly. It's brilliant for a young Irishman to be playing in the Premier. Everyone's goal is to play at the highest level, and I'm no different."

Moloney, who has two years left on his contract, could yet be spending them in exalted company.

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