Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
©INPHO/Donall Farmer "The game against Cork City will be a good chance for us to set a high bar for the season"
# player diary
Mark Quigley: 'I was jumping around my house like a fan when Keith Fahey signed'
The St Patrick’s Athletic forward talks pre-season epidurals, ‘street footballer’ Chris Forrester and Martin O’Neill’s visit to Richmond Park.

I WAS EAGER for a good start on my return to St Pat’s but, on the first day of pre-season training, I injured my back and was out of action for six weeks. I only returned to action last week but was delighted to make the bench for our Presidents’ Cup win over Sligo Rovers.

I have three bulging discs in my back and have had to manage it for years. I rarely miss training and matches, though last year was tough. I had some muscle injuries but it was probably linked to my back. I ended up going over to Cappagh Hospital to get an epidural and it seemed to do the trick. I’ve had four or five of the injections over the years and they have never really worked until now. It helps to ease the pain but is not something that will cure me forever.

I have my own fitness and core work, to strengthen my back, and I do that before each training session and match. I’m 28 now and not old by any means although some days it feels like it. I’m back training now; the sessions are tough, intense and just what I need. I’m hoping to get some league and Setanta Cup action now and get some minutes under my belt.

What has really energised me is training four and five days a week with the lads. This St Pat’s squad is up there with the best I have ever been involved in. It’s a team that suits my style of football. They get the ball down and pass it. We’re solid at the back and, going forward, we’ve got a lot of flair players and lads who can score goals. It is up to [St Patrick's boss] Liam Buckley to mould his best XI now. Over the course of the season the entire squad will be called on but, at the moment, we have 18, 19 players pushing for the starting line-up.

I played with Killian Brennan before at Bohemians and know how talented he is. Chris Forrester is the best young player in the league and has been for the last couple of seasons. During the off season, many of the [Airtricity League] lads play a regular 5-a-side. It’s a mixture of Pat’s, Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians players with a few mates who aren’t with sides. It’s fun and good for a mess about but I wonder what any of our fans would think if they walked by one day and saw us zipping around after each other. From seeing Chris up close, during those matches, you really appreciate how good he is. I’d call him a street footballer.

Mark Quigley tackled by Chris Forrester and Greg Bolger ©INPHO / Lorraine O'Sullivan Chris Forrester and Greg Bolger chase down Quigley (in Sligo red) in 2012. ©INPHO / Lorraine O'Sullivan / Lorraine O'Sullivan

I was a little bit disappointed leaving Shamrock Rovers after just one season. I had signed with them for two years in the hope of settling in with a club as I had moved around a bit beforehand. My record wasn’t all that bad, eight goals in 15 or so games, but I didn’t start many games and only twice finished a full 90 minutes. It’s hard to judge that season as I was injured a bit but, even when I was fit, I wasn’t getting a fair crack of the whip. I won’t lose any sleep over moving on.

Rovers’ league form was poor. For a club like Shamrock Rovers to finish fifth in the league is not acceptable. We finished the season well and won three cups though. [Rovers boss] Trevor Croly has his way of playing and a preferred formation. He had a best XI in his head and I don’t think I was in it. I was happy to leave and take on a new challenge rather than staying there to rot on the bench.

I spoke with a couple of clubs and Sligo Rovers were one of them. Moving back to them was a serious possibility. It was tough during the 2012 season. I was away from home a lot and there was a lot of travel but we won the league so it was justified. Sligo were a great bunch of lads. After every season I have [Rovers midfielder] Joseph N’do on the phone to me, trying to sign me up. However, when I spoke to Liam Buckley and heard St Pat’s were interested — with them being the champions and the players they have — my mind was made up.

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Having Keith Fahey sign up a few weeks later was a complete bonus. I sort of knew it would happen before he signed. I’m friends with him so every time we spoke I was trying to convince him to sign up. I got a call from him on the day he signed and was thinking ‘this is either good or bad news’. When he told me he was joing, I was like a fan, jumping around the house.

Mark Quigley celebrates his goal ©INPHO / Cathal Noonan Quigley celebrates a goal for St Pat's, in 2007, with teammates Keith Fahey and Stephen Brennan. ©INPHO / Cathal Noonan / Cathal Noonan

Keith and I had a few good years at Pat’s. We linked up well back then and I’m looking forward to rekindling that partnership. It was great to see Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane at the Presidents Cup game at the weekend. Keith is an Ireland international and, as we saw with his great goals and Dundalk and Sligo, he hasn’t missed a step. He is the same player he was when he was with Birmingham, and playing for Ireland, so he should be in the squad. If he was still playing in England, I think we would be in the squad.

Hopefully O’Neill and Keane will come to more games and give lads a chance. They had a few boys in training with the international players last year. That was great to see and tests the lads against experienced, international players.

We kick off the defence of our title with an away trip to Cork City at Turner’s Cross. Every club I’ve ever been with, Cork has never been an easy team to play against. They have signed a lot of good players and they will be there or thereabouts. They are tough to beat at home and had a few decent lads in midfield last season.

It will be a good test to see where we are at. We want to set a high bar for the rest of the season and prove we are ready to defend our title.

Mark Quigley has scored over 70 goals in more than 280 League of Ireland matches. A winner of the 2012 Airtricity Player of the Year, he is now in his second spell with @stpatsfc

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