St Patrick's Athletic's Europa League hero Declan 'Fabio' O'Brien is the Soccer Writers Association of Ireland Player of the Month for July. The 29-year-old set a new Irish record when he netted in three successive Europa League games during July and has since added to that by making it four goals in four games this month when he scored against Krylya Sovetov.
O'Brien scored home and away as the Saints beat Valletta of Malta 2-1 on aggregate in the second preliminary round and then scored the only goal of the game as St Pat's beat Russian outfit Krylya Sovetov 1-0 at Richmond Park.
Even then, not many gave St Pat's a hope of pulling of surviving the second leg but, having gone 3-0 down, the Saints scored two late goals - with O'Brien scoring the second - to ensure a 3-3 aggregate draw that saw the Irish outfit go through on away goals.
Speaking as he prepares for this week's Europa League play-off against Steaua Bucharest, O'Brien, who joined St Pat's on loan from Dundalk at the start of July, admits his move could not have gone better.And he admits that he believed European football this season would have short lived given St Pat's inconsistent form in the league.
O'Brien said: "I couldn't have asked for any more since making the loan move, it's been a great few weeks."It's the first time I've won it. I thought I was in with a shout a few times before and could have won it. It's a nice award to win and I think everyone wants to win it at some stage in their career. "When I first came here, I thought we might struggle against the Maltese outfit. We'd just lost to Galway and no disrespect to Galway but Valletta were going to be a harder team.
"But we got by them and I got the first two goals and then we had the Russians.
"They were some team, probably one of the best in Europe, they had a few Russian internationals in their side and play in a tough league but we got though, it was an incredible two games to set up a great game against
"It's another step-up for us but hopefully we can do ourselves justice.
Hopefully we can have a good day and they have an off day."A few more goals against Steaua would ensure legendary status in Inchicore for Fabio though the striker revealed he is unsure where his future lies when his loan spell with the Saints ends at the end of the season. O'Brien added: "I went to Dundalk and I was paying left wing. I don't' have a problem with that as different managers see different things but I was delighted to get the chance to come to Pats.
"I haven't made any long-term plans. I think the way the league is, everyone is waiting to see what happens. I'm a free agent in November so I'll see what happens.
"The 29-year-old striker first made his name with Drogheda United who he joined in 2002 from non-League Verona helping the Drogs to promotion in his first season and going on to become a mainstay in their side over the next seven years. O'Brien was the only member of the promotion winning team to remain at the club as the big spenders enjoyed unprecedented success winning the FAI Cup in 2005, Setanta Sports Cup in 2006 and League title and Setanta Cup in 2007.
Injuries curtailed his involvement in the 2007 success and again the 2008 season before he moved to Dundalk at the start of this year and then joining the Saints on loan.
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