KEITH Fahey is hoping to use his move to Birmingham City as a platform to get into Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland squad.
The uncapped midfielder, who will join Blues on January 2 after signing a three-and-a-half year deal on Tuesday, attracted the headlines and English scouts in Ireland with sparkling performances for St Patrick’s Athletic in the FAI eircom League of Ireland.
The 25-year-old was named the PFAI Player of the Year last month and his transfer to an English club was a forgone conclusion when the Irish season concluded just under two weeks ago.
St Patrick’s, who finished second in the Premier Division behind local rivals Bohemians, were so resigned to losing their talisman they ran a farewell video with Fahey on their website long before pen had been put to paper.
Despite all the attention, Ireland’s Italian manager Trapattoni is yet to fix his experienced gaze on Fahey. That subject has become a bugbear for players in the League of Ireland who have long felt they are unfairly being ignored for England-based compatriots.
Fahey, who has represented the Republic at all levels apart from senior, is among frustrated overlooked Irish players and aired his views upon signing for Birmingham.
“A few players in the League of Ireland have been ignored at international level for a while now, so maybe I have a
better chance of getting spotted in England,” said Fahey. “They have no intentions of watching League of Ireland players, so maybe if I am in England I will have a chance. I am not going to get carried away with myself, I know I need to do well and get into the team at Birmingham, but this is a great chance for me and I won’t be afraid to work hard.”
Alex McLeish will be hoping that with maturity, Fahey would have found a cure for the homesickness that ruined his chances of making it in the English game as a younger player during spells with Arsenal and Aston Villa. Having originally failed to settle in England, Fahey returned to his home city of Dublin in 2002 to initially play non-league football with Bluebell United but his undoubted talent soon saw him snapped up by St Patrick’s a year later.
A shock season-long move to Drogheda United followed before he returned to The Super Saints where this season he played an integral part in the Inchicore club’s strong domestic finish and their UEFA Cup run.
There’s no doubting that Fahey has achieved all that he can in his country of birth and McLeish has already expressed his wish that his first acquisition of the 2009 January transfer window will arrive with a hunger for success.
Having also been tracked by a host of other British clubs including West Ham, Sunderland and Celtic, Fahey doesn’t appear to be lacking an appetite for the challenge that lies ahead of him.
“Over the course of the season that has just finished in Ireland I was hearing about interest from clubs but you just put it out of your mind unless you find out that it’s serious interest,” added Fahey.
“When it became apparent Birmingham were in for me I jumped at the chance to come and talk to the people here as it is a club that’s really going places.
“Birmingham are doing well in the Championship and have every chance of being in the Premier League next season so it’s a great opportunity and challenge for me to keep working hard and improving as a player.”
Meanwhile, having ensured free admission for all his club’s season ticket holders for next month’s FA Cup clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham chairman David Gold has now called on fellow Championship clubs to drive down their prices.
Several Football League clubs including Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City have already reacted to the economic downturn by attempting to make the matchday experience cheaper for the average supporter.
Now Gold has warned other clubs that they risk pricing young people out of the game.
“The fans have been raped and pillaged,” said Gold. “If young people don’t come to the grounds they will watch football on television and lose the tradition of supporting their local club. We need to reduce prices, but it cannot work unless all clubs do it across the board.”
n To view footage of Birmingham City’s new signing Keith Fahey in action go to: http://blogs.sundaymercury.net/final-word/andy_walker/