Fagan hopes the wait is finally over
The St Patrick’s Athletic striker believes his side can end their 51-year cup final hoodoo
WITH BOTH FAI Cup finals to date at the Aviva Stadium having gone to a shoot-out, Christy Fagan says he’ll have no qualms about stepping forward to take a penalty if needs must tomorrow afternoon.
The St Patrick’s Athletic striker has history in showing his nerve in such a scenario having slotted home from the spot in the similarly tense atmosphere of an English FA Youth Cup Final.
That was during his apprenticeship at Manchester United, when they met rivals Liverpool in the final five years ago. But what he will want to change in his first cup final at this level is the result.
“I played in a Youth Cup final, but this would be my first senior final,” said St Patrick’s leading scorer this season. “It would be the biggest final I’ve played in. It’s going to be a great day.”
“It wasn’t very successful,” he recounts of his previous decider. “We were beaten in the second-leg at Old Trafford on penalties, 4-3. It wasn’t too good an experience. I took a penalty and I scored. We had, I think, 25,000 fans at the game. Playing in front of that crowd at 17 is brilliant. Hopefully, this time around, in front of a good crowd, we can get the right result.
“I’d step up, all right,” adds the 23-year-old Dubliner should we have a third shoot-out tomorrow. “In saying that, my record this season hasn’t been great. I missed one in Sligo – last kick of the game.
“I think I missed one before that as well, so Seánie took over. But, definitely, if it came to a shoot-out I’d put my name forward. I’d be confident enough.”
Finishing third in the league and qualifying for the Europa League once again after three adventurous rounds in it this year, Liam Buckley’s rebuilt side can be considered to have had a very good season.
There is a sense around Inchicore, though, that they should have something a little more tangible to show for it. Ending their 51-year drought of not having won the FAI Cup would tick that box perfectly.
Like Fagan, Ger O’Brien will be playing in his first senior cup final tomorrow. And with a family connection to the club’s long-running saga, the 28-year-old right-back is all too aware of St Patrick’s cup woes as they try to avoid a seventh defeat in the final since they last won it in 1961.
“51 years,” mused O’Brien. “My father would have been five or six at the time. I know his older brother, Robert, was definitely there. He’s a season ticket holder. He was definitely at the game.
“It just shows there’s a whole generation that has missed out. If you are 50 years old, you haven’t seen this club win the cup.
“It would be nice for everyone involved if we could win it. When this club is flying high it’s a really good community club and everyone gets behind it. If we could bring this trophy back to Inchicore we could set the ball rolling for something special.”
Derry coming into the final in their best form of the season diminishes St Patrick’s tag as favourites.Succumbing to Sligo Rovers in the title race in a dramatic game at the Showgrounds was followed by a flat performance in losing at Derry. That meant St Patrick’s needed a point from their final game with Cork City to secure Europe, which they duly acquired.
“I think we are seen as slight favourites because of how the league campaign finished up, but Derry are probably the form side going into the final,” said O’Brien.
“It’s my first final and some of the boys have been there before. They know what the week is about.
“There is a buzz around the place. But when you are drawn in the first round against Crumlin there is a buzz around the place to be honest, because it’s the cup.
“All the talk about 51 years won’t matter too much to us and it certainly won’t matter to Derry. It has to end some time and, please God, it’s this Sunday.”