Anguish within the Feely household in Kildare at Kevin’s injury-enforced absence for Sunday’s Leinster GAA final is tempered by his brother Rory’s presence at Aviva Stadium tonight.
“I get the limelight for once this time,” quipped the Bohemians centre-back ahead of their Europa Conference League second round clash against Dudelange, the Luxembourg side they lead 1-0 from last week’s first leg.
Like his older brother, Rory lined up for the Lilywhites at minor level and, similarly, pursued his soccer career at Bohemians.
The difference between the siblings’ pathways, however, is the extra-curricular element.
Kevin had to halt his degree when the lure of Charlton Athletic swayed him in 2012.
By contrast, Rory has chosen to fuse his two passions, necessitating his move from St Pat’s in the off-season to a Bohs set-up who train in the evenings.
He intends utilising the qualification he attained in maths and physical education to start working as a teacher in September.
“Football isn’t the end-all and be-all,” contends the 24-year-old.
“I’ve had a brother who went to the UK and came home at 22.
“I saw the downfall; it affected my decisions and I’ve got my degree. It’s 100% football at the highest level in Ireland at the moment but with the safety net of jumping into a school if I want.”
The numbers are straightforward for Feely’s Bohs side tonight.
Once they can avoid defeat in front of the 8,000 crowd, a third-round clash against PAOK from Greece awaits them next week. That would swell the club’s European earnings to €850,000 with the incentive of further riches and a play-off into the group stages on the table.
“We slightly underperformed in the first leg even though we won,” reflected Feely.
“As a defensive unit, coming away with a clean sheet is all you can wish for. And the fact Dudelange got no shots on target for 80 of the 90 minutes, we can only see ourselves coming out with the right result once we can keep it that tight again.
“We’re not thinking of changing our approach just because we’re 1-0 ahead. All the players will be on the same wavelength.”
That will be vital, given Feely’s chastening experience on his first playing visit to the national stadium a fortnight ago. Incurring a booking after only 11 minutes in a tie against Stjarnan that was evenly poised at 1-1 prompted intervention by manager Keith Long at half-time. Feely had to watch on from the Aviva bench as his Gypsies side completed a 3-0 victory in the second half.
“Being substituted was the right tactical decision and something I had to deal with,” he confessed.
“It was a huge occasion and Rob Cornwall coming on didn’t change the level of performance so there’s nothing I can do to complain about. It was slightly bittersweet — personally I felt I didn’t perform to the standards I’ve set myself — but getting through the round was the important thing.” As statistician Feely is well aware, a winning formula takes no prisoners.