Sunday could turn out to be a giddy climax to an already landmark week for St Patrick’s Athletic centre-half Sean Hoare, who only yesterday graduated from NUI Maynooth with a degree in business and accounting.
And should Pat’s finally end their infamous FAI Cup jinx against Derry City at the Aviva, Hoare would also be able to celebrate a notable footballing double in 2014, having been named player of the tournament when captaining Maynooth to history back in February as the college lifted the Collingwood Cup for the first time.
The 20-year-old from Castleknock, Dublin – son of former Shamrock Rovers man Mick – came to the Inchicore club through their football scholarship at the university, impressing with the U19s before making his senior debut in 2013. This year, despite an injury setback, he has continued to rack up appearances and, according to manager Liam Buckley, is very much “in his thoughts” as he ponders his starting 11 for Sunday.
Hoare has had big boots to fill at Richmond Park, with defensive mainstay Conor Kenna departing for Shamrock Rovers following last year’s league title triumph.
“It was a positive for me,” says Hoare. “Although I rated Conor highly and looked up to him to a lot, when he left it created a vacancy to fill. I’d like to think I took that. Conor gave me mountains of advice last year. He believed I could play at this level. He put his arm around me and told me I was good enough, which meant a lot.
“I used last year as a learning curve. I watched Conor and Kenny (Browne) to see what you needed to do in this league. And when I came in this year, I used that.”
And should Hoare get the nod on Sunday, he knows he’ll have to call on all the learning he has done so far, if he’s to pass the testing examination likely to be set by Derry hotshot Rory Patterson.
“His quality is undoubted,” he says. “He’s a great player. I played against him a couple of times. He’s a handful. Like anyone, if you can get to grips with them early on and know what they’re about, you’ve got a chance.
“He’s got a lot of quality, can score from anywhere. It only takes a second to take a shot from 30 yards or to get in behind you, so any lapse of concentration and you’ll be punished.”
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