Glen McAuley is hoping that his halfway-line goal that has been viewed by over a million people relaunches his career as a striker.
The 21-year-old has struggled to make headway since returning from Liverpool in 2019, signing for Dublin clubs St Patrick’s Athletic, Bohemians, and Shelbourne in quick succession.
However, it was his move to Athlone Town last week that laid the groundwork for his moment of fame on Friday.
With literally the last kick of extra-time from the tip-off, McAuley lobbed Waterford goalkeeper Paul Martin to equalise and send the FAI Cup first-round tie into penalties.
OH MY GOD! 🤯— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) July 23, 2021
Absolutely incredible goal by Glen McAuley to score his hat trick and equalise for Athlone Town, the game goes to penalties! 😱@AthloneTownAFC 4-4 @WaterfordFCie
Sign up 📺 | https://t.co/vfkMjbvRwA#LOITV | #LOI pic.twitter.com/p4lSjUewI6
Although the First Division side lost the shootout, McAuley's third goal of his hat-trick in the 4-4 draw went viral, cropping up on international outlets such as Sky Sports.
The FAI confirmed that their clip of the strike had surpassed the million mark of viewers within 48 hours of the game.
“I didn’t expect it to blow up like it has but my phone has gone mad since it happened,” McAuley told RTÉ’s Soccer Podcast.
“When I asked the referee how long was left, he said ‘that’s it’. I thought I’m going to have to hit this and when I saw the goalkeeper step up from his line, I had to do it.
“It must have been written in the stars because I only signed on Thursday after training with the squad for the first time on Wednesday.”
Sixth-placed Athlone return to league action on Friday by hosting fellow promotion chasers Treaty United at the same home stadium McAuley illuminated on his debut.
Town manager Adrian Carberry will turn to his hat-trick hero for firepower again, utilising him in his preferred position.
“This is the first time since I’ve moved home that I feel that I’ll get game-time in my actual position of striker,” McAuley explained. “I just need to repay the manager’s faith by keeping scoring goals.
“We weren’t expected to win the Cup game against Waterford; it was a bit of a free pass ahead of Treaty United in the league, but we can take a lot of confidence from that performance.”
During his spell as a trainee at Liverpool, McAuley was part of Steven Gerrard’s U18 squad before the club legend left for Rangers.
He was also a regular in Ireland’s underage squads, partnering Troy Parrott in attack three years ago when the U19s overcame Bosnia Herzegovina in a European qualifier.
“I had an unbelievable six years at Liverpool, which nobody can take away from me,” the Dubliner said of his spell abroad.
“I learnt a lot about attitude and lifestyle; it was something I’ll never regret doing.
“We had a great team with a lot of good players such as Curtis Jones, Rhys Williams, Neco Williams, Rhian Brewster, and Ben Woodburn.
“When the time is right, I’d like to get back involved in full-time football, but I have a one-year-old baby, which everything works around for the moment.”