Across the water, compatriots and other goalkeepers’ union members like Caoimhin Kelleher and Gavin Bazunu are gazing at the leaders of their Premier League clubs and wondering what’s next to move right, leaving a club he loved to his wings to spread.
Former St Patrick’s athlete Brian Maher is ready for anything that comes his way when he returns to Richmond Park on Friday night, having entered his home stadium for some formative years (2016-2020) and thanks to the Freaks of the fixture, the second of five games for Derry against Dublin clubs.
Coming with a Derry City side who have been top of the table all season with just one defeat, he is hoping for a better result than his first game at Richmond Park away with Bray Wanderers. “I played there with Bray, we were beaten 6-0,” he told Independent.ie.
“I’m looking forward to returning this week, at Bray we were league focused then, we played a different form and it didn’t work as Pat’s showed their class but I was received nicely by the Pat’s fans.
“It’s going to be a tough game but these are the games you want. You know what you’re going to get at Richmond Park, tight grounds, good fans, a huge crowd that’s really behind Pat’s.”
Raheny man Maher has long been a Saints player with ambitions to break into the side but he found his way blocked and in 2020 he opted to move to Derry, initially lining up for Bray before last changed .
Despite succeeding Bazunu and Kelleher as Ireland Under-21 goalkeepers, he knows he’s in no position to compare himself to someone like Kelleher at Anfield and his status but the notion of being a number for too long 2 being patient was in his mind.
“I didn’t want to wait that long if I had stayed with Pat I could still be in the same place and not play games. It wasn’t ideal what happened with Pat, but I just had to get games, that was my bottom line and it’s serving me now,” he says.
“Most people can understand why I did what I did, there were raised eyebrows when I left Pat’s but it was my own decision to go, it took a bit of courage on my part, as a young goalkeeper, to go in and to say I want to go, I want to play games and people can see that I’m fine where I am now. And I wanted to keep playing for Ireland, I wouldn’t have stayed in the Ireland squad if I didn’t get games. “
Life on Foyleside suits Maher, who lives in town in a house with teammates Brandon Kavanagh, Matty Smith and Cameron McJannet. “It was important to live in Derry when you play for Derry City,” he says.
Maher and Kavanagh are the only Dubliners in the squad but the goalkeeper has opened up about the club’s history, the fact Derry have had at least one Dubliner in their squad every Premier Division win. Talk of it surfaced last week after a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the last title win, when dubs like Tony O’Dowd (a goalie), Tommy Dunne, Richie Purdy and James Keddy supported that title win.
“I met some of the ’97 guys the other night. I’ll remind the lads here that a Derry team that wins the league always has a couple of Dublin lads with them, we get a bit of stick with that It would be nice to give it back, reminding them that they have a or it takes two dubs to win things,” jokes Maher, a former St. Kevin’s Boys player.
“When Derry came in for me and I was weighing offers, I was aware of history, I knew it had been too long since they last won the league. Maybe it won’t be this year but being part of a Derry team that’s a challenge again for things I wanted to be a part of.
“We’re a new team, we’re still gelling, Ruaidhri Higgins has only been at the club for a year which isn’t a long time to build anything. It’s game after game, see how many wins we can get.
“Everyone knows the quality of Shamrock Rovers, how they won the league by a huge margin last year and it’s not difficult for anyone to win back 18 points in a year, they are the favorites and rightly so, they have a good winning streak. They added someone like Andy Lyons who I know well, he was a great signing, they set the standard.
“If Pat’s can put a run together it will be talked about and challenged again, they have a really good squad and have invested well, they have good young players coming through, they have the quality to challenge, they’ve beat Rovers already, they are at real risk of attack
“I wasn’t thinking too far ahead when I got into it, I took it game by game and the results came naturally. We take it with a pinch of salt as it’s so early in the season but we’re enjoying it it.” it so far.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/league-of-ireland/if-id-stayed-at-pats-i-could-still-be-in-the-same-place-brian-maher-happy-with-life-in-derry-41598054.html ‘If I had stayed with Pat I could still be in the same place’ – Brian Maher is content with life in Derry