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'I didn't want to come back half dead. I wanted to still move on the pitch'

New St Patrick’s Athletic striker Eoin Doyle has returned to the League of Ireland with his sense of humour matching an ambition to be successful.

Doyle has agreed a three-year deal at Richmond Park.
Doyle has agreed a three-year deal at Richmond Park.
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

Updated Jan 12th 2022, 8:07 PM

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC supporters will be hoping Eoin Doyle is still as sharp in the box as he is with the one liners.

The 33-year-old striker has returned to the League of Ireland just over a decade after he left Sligo Rovers for Hibernian.

It was in Scotland where he met his new boss at Richmond Park, close friend Tim Clancy, and it’s a friendship that has survived the usual travails – and travels – for life as a professional.

St Pat’s is Doyle’s 13th club, having bid farewell to Edinburgh in 2013 for a nomadic existence in the English Championship, League One and League Two.

Bolton Wanderers in the English third tier was his final stop in the UK, after finishing last season as their top scorer with 19 goals to help achieve promotion.

eoin-doyle Doyle puts pen to paper. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

There was some surprise when his exit was confirmed this month, especially as he had another 18 months left on his contract, but Doyle had made it clear he was keen to move home with his wife and three young children, despite interest from “six or seven” clubs in England.

Although he had to make amends for disappointing his better half’s Shamrock Rovers-mad family earlier this week.

“I had to march into the house there yesterday with a big bag of scones as a peace offering,” he joked earlier today.

The new Saints frontman was speaking to the media for the first time since being unveiled on a three-year deal last week, and his wit remains intact.

“Ah, the police wouldn’t ask me a question like that,” he replied to a query about his goal target for this year. 

“I always get the aul Indian shout every transfer window,” he laughed, revealing some of the options a bit more further afield than Inchicore. 

tim-clancy New St Pat's boss Tim Clancy was a teammate of Doyle's at Hibernian, Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

But there was also a serious point to be made about why he felt now was the right time to relocate to Dublin.

“I didn’t want to come back half dead, I wanted to make sure I was still able to move on the pitch. I didn’t want to come back at 36 or 37 and have no value, just picking up a wage or whatever. I wanted to make sure when I came back, I could do what I do. To be competitive.”

Nothing else will be tolerated at Richmond Park this season. They were Rovers’ closest challengers in the Premier Division last term but still finished 16 points adrift of the champions.

Their FAI Cup success was still being savoured when it emerged that head coach Stephen O’Donnell was bound for former club Dundalk.

A messy divorce is ongoing, with the club issuing High Court proceedings against him alleging breach of contract.

This has been the backdrop to new boss Clancy being installed, with the signing of Doyle viewed as a statement of intent ahead of the upcoming campaign.

“Now, the last year or so, you definitely feel the… not the pressure, but the pain of playing 45-50 games a year, Saturday-Tuesday, it can be very demanding,” he explained of life in League One.

“I love it all the same, but you do feel the pain of it eventually. Obviously, going back and playing a few less games, I’m sure it will help the body. As long as they keep me off them astros in training, I should be OK!

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“The way the league has gone now, it’s gone from strength to strength, and being able to watch it since the streaming service came online. All the games have been good, and I’ve enjoyed games and can see the difference in the standard since I left. It’s very young and energetic and I will have to put up with that.”

An indication of how time has moved on was evident when Doyle went through some familiar faces still fighting the good fight here.

eoin-doyle-under-pressure Source: Cathal Noonan

Ian Bermingham is club captain and a former teammate at Rovers, Chris Forrester sparred with him while at Peterborough United in England, Hoops skipper Ronan Finn is another veteran while Andy Boyle of Dundalk was emerging at UCD during his first taste of the League of Ireland.

Doyle’s cousin, Dave Webster, is also centre back at Finn Harps and, considering he has taken on the role of Irish scout for Bolton as part of a very amicable settlement, getting to grips with talent on these shores will be crucial.

“When it was mentioned to me on way out [about scouting], something triggered in my head that this could be something for me after football, maybe, if I’m any good. Throw the eye on players and give the aul recommendation. We’ll wait and see. I still have a couple of years left.”

BTL 5

First published today at 16.00

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