Winning trophies is great and I want more - Ian Birmingham

Tue, Oct 09 2018

Ian Birmingham Credit: Darragh Connolly (ETPhotos)

As someone who’s represented his country up to U-21 level and won major trophies for St Patrick’s Athletic, the last couple of seasons’ empty-handed returns have only made Ian Bermingham even more determined to acquire additional silverware as soon as possible.

A promising schoolboy career with Ballyfermot United and Lourdes Celtic earned Ian numerous underage international call-ups, culminating in lifting 2007’s Lisbon Trophy with the Republic of Ireland U-18s that March. The following month, the young defender signed for Pete Mahon’s UCD, going immediately into the Students’ first-team squad.

“At Lourdes Celtic I never played left-back until the last year or two. I just took to it and played well. When I joined UCD I was put straight in, as Pete told me I would and he stuck to that. At another League of Ireland club it might not have happened so quickly.”

Impressive displays during the Dubliner’s maiden League of Ireland season caught Stockport County’s attention, but their advances were turned down in favour of a new deal with the Belfield club: “Stockport offered me a contract and I went over, but back then I was a bit of a home bird and wanted to stay in the League of Ireland for another couple of years and see how it went. My League of Ireland career took off and I’ve no regrets now, but if it had come a little bit later on, I would like to have tested myself, but it never came. I’ve won a lot of trophies here and probably wouldn’t have been playing at the time I was offered to go over.”

In August 2008 Bermingham was named in the national U-21 squad for a friendly, but had to pull out of this and two subsequent competitive fixtures due to injury. Fortunately, he eventually debuted at this level in October of that year against Lithuania.

“Getting called up three times and missing out was disappointing, as it was a great honour, but when I did make my U-21 debut, it was brilliant. Obviously, I could have been overlooked, but thankfully I took my chance when it came and got a few caps.”

Before the 2009 campaign began, Ian arrived at Shamrock Rovers, who were about to play in their new home of Tallaght Stadium, where Real Madrid became the first occupants of the away dressing room: “They’re one of the biggest clubs in Ireland. They had a new manager (Michael O’Neill) taking over and a lot of things happening around the club. It was a good move for me, as UCD had just been relegated. I didn’t want to play in the First Division and it was the most attractive offer I had. When I did sign, I got injured playing for the U-21s and was out for a long time.”

Subsequent to a solitary season with the Hoops, Bermingham teamed up with his former UCD manager Pete Mahon, who was about to embark upon his second campaign in charge of St Patrick’s Athletic: “I had a great relationship with Pete. He gave me a call and I was delighted to sign for such a great club ... We’ve had some fantastic times and European nights. We were always up there challenging, but fell away in the end.”

Coming towards the end of his ninth year with the Saints, Ian is hungry to repeat the club’s previous feats, which included a Premier Division title, FAI Cup, FAI President’s Cup and a pair of League of Ireland Cups, all achieved earlier this decade.

“Winning trophies is great and I want more. The last few seasons have been disappointing for us, but we want to get back to that level again. It’s up to us to push back on and return to where we were during those successful years.”