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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 5 June, 2020

Ex-Ireland international hoping to propel Salford City and Class of 92 into FA Cup third round

We spoke to Stephen O’Halloran about life at the club and working under its famous owners.

O'Halloran has been capped twice for Ireland.
O'Halloran has been capped twice for Ireland.

A FORMER IRELAND international playing in the seventh-tier of English football sounds like another crushing tale of the perilous nature of the professional game.

Fortunately, this isn’t one of those stories.

Stephen O’Halloran joined Northern Premier League Premier Division side Salford City in the summer — a team bankrolled by Manchester United’s Class of 92 and businessman Peter Lim, who is also the largest shareholder of Spanish side Valencia.

O’Halloran, who came through the Aston Villa youth system without playing a first-team game and won two Ireland caps under Steve Staunton in 2007, has called several Football League clubs home throughout his career including Coventry City and Southampton.

In May, the 28-year-old made the decision to leave Stockport County and drop down a division to join Salford.

For the former Wycombe defender, the opportunity to be joining a team with big plans for the future was too good an opportunity to turn down.

“The owners have plans to bring the team to the Football League in the coming years, and for me to have a chance to contribute to that really attracted me to the club,” O’Halloran said.

“When I was signing, I had the chance to meet Ryan Giggs who was one of my boyhood heroes. That was amazing.”

Soccer - Emirates FA Cup - First Round - Salford City v Notts County - Moor Lane Gary Neville and Nicky Butt celebrate with Salford City co-manager Anthony Johnson after their FA Cup win over Notts County. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

After beating Notts County in the first round of the FA Cup, Salford face a second round tie against another League Two side, Hartlepool United on Friday night.

After the win against Notts County in the first round, the whole team went back to the hotel. Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville congratulated every player individually.”

“We see the owners at a lot of the matches, and you could see how happy they were celebrating our win in the first round which shows just what the club mean to them.”

The furthest Salford had ever reached before this season, was the second qualifying round and O’Halloran feels the club has overachieved — having already won seven matches in the competition.

Although Hartlepool sit three divisions above Salford, O’Halloran and his team-mates will be doing everything possible to cause another upset on Friday night.

The prospect of reaching the third round, when teams from the Premier League enter the competition, is no doubt a motivating factor as Salford could be drawn against Manchester United.

Soccer - Emirates FA Cup - First Round - Salford City v Notts County - Moor Lane O'Halloran (third from left, back row) and the Salford City team before their FA Cup first round win. Source: Martin Rickett

Off the pitch, O’Halloran is working hard too. He is six months away from completing a degree in physiotherapy at The University of Salford.

“Long-term, I hope to have enough experience with to work as a sports physiotherapist. But at present I am concentrating on finishing my studies and enjoying my football with Salford City.”

O’Halloran will probably never play for Ireland again, but he is now just a game away from one more shot at the big time.

Salford City v Hartlepool is live on BBC Two at 19:30 on Friday 

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About the author:

Shane Costello

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