At a gala dinner in the early 1990s Niall Quinn sat at a table with Jim Bolger. The racehorse trainer was drinking water. Quinn reckons he slugged 10 pints of Guinness before waking up the following morning with a ticket for a horse in his hand.
Quinn's face lights up his office in the FAI's Abbotstown headquarters when Cois na Tine is mentioned.
"The horse turned out to be an unbeaten two-year-old winter favourite for the Guineas," he beams.
Cois na Tine made him a lot of money and when he was sold Quinn and his wife Gillian could buy their first house. "We called the house Cois na Tine after him. He was very good to us. We sold him for a lot of money - but years later found out he was in Nevada in a meat sale.
"We got him back, brought him back to Sedgefield in the north east of England. He was like something from an ad for agencies who help animals. It was terrible. We fed him and Gillian minded him and we got him strong again. He was entire so we had to give him to a local stallion manager and he spent about seven years up there. We visited him every Sunday. He looked brilliant. He really did look like Black Beauty."
Now Quinn's focus is on another rescue effort as interim deputy CEO of the embattled FAI.
It is 12 months since former CEO John Delaney's house of cards began to tumble and the shambolic state of the association's finances became known.
Delaney had insisted the association would be debt-free by 2020 but at the end of last year it had liabilities of €62m. A rescue package worth more than €30m was brokered between the FAI, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Uefa and Bank of Ireland in January to secure its future. A new management team is now in place to right what was a sinking ship.
"The FAI was very close to dying," Quinn insists.
He was appointed to the new role of deputy CEO on an interim basis and has set about reforming the organisation with new chief executive Gary Owens and chairman Roy Barrett, the Goodbody Stockbrokers managing director.
Quinn wants "a new way of thinking - that brings intelligence of data, research and modern best practices -" to be at the core of what they achieve. His priority is making sure the FAI workforce of around 200 comes along with him.
"They all felt they weren't empowered to deliver what their skill sets could and obviously there was a fear of losing jobs. They had been through pay cuts [in 2012], they hadn't been restored and it had got even worse. So you can imagine the culture."
Quinn has placed himself directly among the troops as part of his reform efforts and imposed his philosophy.
"I am not a business restructure-ist, I am not a legal person, I am not a financial person. I bring something else to the table.
"When we came in here I purposely moved to this side of the building," he points at the window and across a courtyard to another wing of the FAI HQ where Delaney's office was once located.
Quinn intentionally wants to distance himself from the past administration and its modus operandi. "That's where the administration starts, the boardroom is over there [across the courtyard] but in here is where our grassroots extends from, our international coaching, Football For All [a programme aiming to boost participation]."
Quinn's office is next to a hub from which the League of Ireland is run. Many fans complain it was much maligned and ignored under the previous regime and Delaney's 2014 comments that the league was "a difficult child for the organisation" were a frequent source of ire for fans. However, the interim deputy CEO is keen to stress transformation outside the organisation will help make life easier for it financially, as he suggests reforms that would see sporting bodies benefit from increased funding.
He thinks the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) seizures should be returned to the communities felons operate in instead of going to the central exchequer. The idea is similar to a scheme operated in Scotland where communities benefit from funds recovered through the UK's Proceeds of Crime Act.
"CAB reclaims money from criminal activity. A lot of the time that criminal activity has harmed the areas where football thrives and is needed. Rather than go back in to the tax pile, wouldn't it be better if it went back in to the areas, through sport, not just football? I'd put GAA in as well. It would be a gesture to make us all feel like the community is getting something back from the crime."
Attitudes to gambling, and how the Government uses taxes placed on betting are irritations he wants to change. A levy on off-course betting is used to fund the Government's Horse and Greyhound Fund. Last year this amounted to an €80m allocation for the racing industries. Quinn thinks other sports should benefit more from betting taxes.
"We are in an unusual position here. We have to morally uphold the view that there should be no betting, that football shouldn't have betting sponsors but other sports get all of that tax to run their sports.
"We are being held to a different moral standard.
"Horse racing survives because of it. Greyhound racing survives because of it.
"Bookmaking is a legitimate business. But other sports aren't getting it.
"If government decides to do that with gambling and if we shouldn't think this way, then if so, stop the lottery tomorrow. Because the lottery is a form of gambling. I have gambled myself. I understand gambling destroys lives and even if we never do anything with gambling I would be an advocate of responsible gambling."
Quinn said nobody has told the FAI it cannot commit to commercial deals with betting firms but moral codes and attitudes to gambling limit how the FAI will raise finances.
"Commercially, we are in negotiations to bring new sponsorship in to the association.
"Online gambling and betting companies, we have been approached by a couple and the narrative out there is we can't have betting in sport - there is no place for it. There is a lot of crazy stuff going on here [in the FAI] at the moment and we are really working hard to get sponsors in. We could have our whole sponsorship portfolio filled now. I could have had the women's national league sponsored, the men's league for both divisions and the men's national team sponsored.
"We could have solved a lot of issues in the first four weeks had we partaken in it.
"I am not giving out about it. I am just saying for a company that nearly died, an association that nearly died, where finances and revenues are at a premium we have had to take the moral stance when other sports haven't."