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'Ireland's best young goalkeeper' has signed a contract with St Pat's

It’s a first professional deal for 17-year-old fifth-year student Brian Maher.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC have put their faith in a player they describe as “Ireland’s best young goalkeeper”, with 17-year-old Brian Maher signing his first professional contract today with the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division club.

A highly-regarded Republic of Ireland international up as far as U19 level, Maher enters the professional ranks with Liam Buckley’s side in 2018 having first joined the club two years ago.

“It’s a great feeling to get my first professional deal done and now I can continue with our off season programme and be ready for pre season in early January,” Maher told the club’s official website.

“I signed for this club as a 15 year old because I knew that if I performed well that there were opportunities to progress. Liam told me this when I first signed and he’s been true to his word.”

“I’ve really enjoyed my two seasons with the U17s and also played some games for the U19s last season and there’s hopefully more to come from me.”

Maher, who previously played for St Kevin’s Boys, was part of the St Pat’s side that won the U17 SSE Airtricity League title in 2016 and featured on the bench on a number of occasions for the first team in 2017.

The Raheny native will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Pat’s goalkeeper Conor O’Malley, who secured a move to England earlier this year when he signed for Peterborough United.

The fifth year secondary school student, Maher won’t sit his Leaving Certificate until June 2019.

He said: “I’ve just turned 17 and I think that it’s definitely a big step-up for me but nothing really changes. I’m still playing football for St Pat’s as I have done for the last two years, so I just need to get that going with the U19s and also with the first team if I get the opportunity.

“Liam has said that it’s about getting myself ready to be playing in first team games so I’ve just got to work hard and see where it takes me and hopefully I’ll get my chance somewhere down the line. The training sessions at a higher level will also be really important for me and I’m looking forward to that.

“I’ve been in with the first team for over a year training and I’ve been on the bench a few times so I won’t be nervous heading into training in January. The players and staff have been really good in helping me settle in and I think this helped me to just focus on my performances and hopefully that will be no different moving forward.

“I’m only in fifth year so it feels like the Leaving Cert is a long way away, but I’ve spoken to club about this and I won’t have a problem in balancing both for a year or so and I’m sure I’ll be fine with football and school.

“I just have to keep my head down just like a lot of the lads have done here before with school and also college and I’ll be no different.”

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Paul Dollery

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