A small piece of Robbie Brady’s past with St Kevin’s Boys Club in Dublin bore witness to his immediate impact on this season’s Premier League title race at Turf Moor on Sunday — even if the Burnley newcomer still expected a verbal volley from a watching Roy Keane.
Burnley’s club record €15m signing marked his home debut for Sean Dyche’s club with a magnificent equalising free-kick in the 1-1 draw with leaders Chelsea.
It was a goal that will have been appreciated by Chelsea’s title rivals who, without it, would have seen Antonio Conte’s side move 12 points clear in the table.
And it was certainly appreciated by Billy McCormack and Kevin Wallace, the manager and assistant at St Kevin’s when Brady and his Burnley team-mate Jeff Hendrick were coming through the ranks.
The pair were in attendance, guests of the two Ireland internationals, and accompanied by Hendrick’s father Billy, seated not far from Ireland assistant Keane who, significantly, vacated his seat and exited the stadium as soon as Brady was substituted after 65 minutes.
Keane, presumably, was there specifically to check on the form of Brady, having made the step up from Championship side Norwich last month, although the player himself admitted his overall display was one that will probably earn criticism from the coach.
“He’ll probably have words with me about the performance but he’ll be happy enough with the goal,” joked Brady. “
“I want to show what I’m about in the Premier League, I’m eager to crack on and put in some good performances.
“The goal was a dream start. I’m not sure about the performance, I wasn’t fantastic, I was a bit disappointed with that but I’m still gelling in and learning the way the lads play. I’m over the moon with the goal.
“The style of play is similar enough between Burnley and Ireland. It’s high tempo, all international games are the same.
“The lads were fantastic, it just shows exactly what they’re about. The togetherness and the grit they showed, especially the last few minutes, were excellent to see it off.”
Brady spent 11 years at St Kevin’s before being taken to Manchester United as a 16-year-old, the start of a career in England that soon moved on to Hull, Norwich and, now Turf Moor.
The 25-year-old has spent three previous seasons playing Premier League football, at Hull and Norwich, but always on struggling teams battling to avoid relegation. Now, in a Burnley side that has been one of the feel-good surprises of the current campaign, Brady may have found a better platform to showcase his undoubted talent.
“It’s definitely different,” said Brady of his new surroundings. “It’s well drilled but it appealed to me from the first conversation I had with the manager. I want to work hard and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.
“The way we responded to going a goal down is what they’re about. I was dying to come in and get involved in it. I thought the lads were brilliant.”
Brady’s modesty over his general display against Chelsea could not detract from the positive impression he made on his first start for the club - not least an impression that Conte will have noted, having been on the receiving end of Brady’s match-winning goal for Ireland against Italy in last summer’s European Championships.
His new team-mates certainly appreciated his contribution and if the ever-demanding Joey Barton offers his seal of approval, the Irishman must be doing something right.
“I’ll take it if the lads can cover me on the mistakes I made today,” laughed Brady. “Joey said to me after that I’ve no problem doing your running if you can keep doing that.”
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