Sporting Fingal have announced the signing of Colin Hawkins from Brighton and Hove Albion while Stephen Paisley leaves the club by mutual consent after being offered full-time employment in the financial services sector in September.
In a relatively short career to date Paisley has seen more than most at the highest level in domestic football. After signing for Manchester City from Cherry Orchard in 1999 Paisley returned to Ireland four years later and was part of Longford Town’s FAI Cup success’ in 2003 and 2004. He went on to play for St Patrick’s Athletic and was part of their European adventure in 2008 which culminated in being knocked out of the UEFA Cup first round to Hertha Berlin. Paisley joined Liam Buckley’s Fingal side in January of 2009 and lifted the FAI Cup in November last as skipper against Sligo Rovers.
Speaking to extratime in Santry, Buckley was philosophical about the departure of the towering centre-half.
“We’re all disappointed that he’ll be gone. Stephen got a job offer which he’s going to take up in the middle of September, if not early September so obviously he’s going to miss the last couple of months of the season.
“At that stage we weren’t going to be able to bring anybody in because the transfer window’s only open for July so we had to make a decision. He was definitely taking up the job offer and in fairness we would have encouraged him to get an education through DCU [Sporting and DCU collaborate in a scholarship scheme] and that had an impact on him getting a job.
“ It was a life decision for him, that we had to respect. I’m delighted he made that decision for himself. For us [the club] we’ll be disappointed that he’ll be missing for the rest of the season so we had to make a decision; do we release him now or do we release him in two months time and the decision was now because we couldn’t bring anybody in in two months time…he’s been brilliant for Sporting Fingal, he’s been a great lad. I can’t compliment him enough. We thanked him in the dressing room with all the lads [at training on Thursday]. They’ll all be disappointed that he’s going but again, it was a life decision," stated Buckley.
Into the squad replacing Paisley comes the vastly experienced Colin Hawkins who joins Sporting from Brighton after the best part of a year recuperating and returning from an achilles injury. “It’s all happened very quickly this week,” Hawkins told extratime.
“I was given the opportunity to stay at Brighton and do pre- season…..just family circumstances changed. I’ve two little ones and my wife and I decided to come back. So we came back and Liam contacted me and I came down and did a few days training and it’s worked out great .
“ Everything was rushed through a little bit yesterday because of this deadline for Europe [8th July] next week so I’m delighted about it and looking forward to hopefully helping the team this season both domestically and next week in Europe.”
No stranger to domestic honours with four titles to his name, winning two with St.Pats and one each with Bohemians and Shelbourne, Hawkins is hopeful of Sporting’s immediate prospects. “It’s a super young team - a lot of very, very good young players….possibly need a couple of experienced lads like myself to boss them around a little bit and help them out. There’s a lot to look forward to. This year the league is so close and they [his new team mates] just have to have a bit of belief. We’re right in the mix - if we can win tomorrow night [against Bray] and get three points we’re right up there.”
Ready now to jump right back into the thick of things after an injury that was originally misdiagnosed and only put right after a chance meeting with a Swedish specialist, Hawkins has found a new lease of life with the Santry club.
“The last three days I’ve been running around out there like a twelve year old, I’m just lovin playing football again. I’m 32, I’m not getting any younger but I’m lucky fitness wise; I generally keep fit and look after myself so I’d like to think I can play for another four or five years so we’ll see how that goes.”
Elsewhere at the club Liam Buckley says it now looks unlikely that Ciaran O’Brien will sign permanently from the Colorado Rapids after his short trial period in Santry.
“There’s a bit of difficulty with his club in America at the moment so it’s looking as if that [signing] won’t go through. He’s been with us for the last ten days but there’s a bit of difficulty there and unless that’s resolved over the next few weeks he’ll be back with the Rapids by the end of the month,” concluded Buckley at the ALSAA club in north Dublin.
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