Declan 'Fabio' O'Brien comes out of retirement with Leinster Senior League side Hartstown Huntstown

Mon, Sep 02 2019

O'Brien pictured with former Drogheda United boss Mick Cooke. Credit: Larry McQuillan (ETPhotos)

Former St Patrick’s Athletic and Drogheda United star Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien has signed for Leinster Senior League side Hartstown Huntstown for the 2019/20 season.

The LSL Senior Sunday 1B side have won all four of their opening league fixtures and have strengthened further with the signing of the 40-year-old striker.

O’Brien, who has coaching ambitions of his own, was previously player-manager of the Blanch club’s local rivals Verona but has pitched his lot in with the forward-thinking club for the coming year.

He’s not the only high-profile signing to make the move to Hartstown Huntstown this summer as ex-League of Ireland players Alan Kelly and Graham Gibbs have also signed up.

Yaya Camara has signed from UCD under-19s, Jamie Hanley from Swords Celtic and Jamie Philips from Corduff as the Blanch side look to mix youth with experience.

As luck would have it, O’Brien is in line to make his debut against his former club on Sunday as Dave Byrne’s side look to extend their early lead at the top of the lowest intermediate division.

“He’s only been involved in training with us so far,” Hartstown Huntstown boss Byrne told extratime.ie.

“But it’s great to have him around because his experience is paramount, especially as we push on and try to do the best we can this year.

“He’s a personal trainer [so] he’s fit enough as it is but he wants to compete. I don’t think you’ll ever get that out of Fabio no matter how much you try.

“He came up to us and he was honest with his plans and preparations and said, ‘I love what you have going on here, I love the set-up and the professionalism and I’d like to be part of it.’

“He’s been very open about his ambitions and we’re delighted to have him. They can only learn from him. Even the way he talks the game, his calm attitude, it’s fabulous.”

O’Brien enjoyed a 14-year career in the League of Ireland, mainly with Drogheda, before finishing his career in the Irish League with Glenavon and Carrick Rangers.

He was part of the Drogs side to win the FAI Cup in 2005 and the Premier Division in 2007 under Paul Doolin and were narrowly eliminated in the Champions League qualifiers by Dynamo Kiev.

The Dubliner signed for St Patrick’s Athletic and scored in both legs of the Europa League win over Valletta, impressing enough to earn a deal with the Maltese club.

He had further spells with Athlone Town and Monaghan United before returning to Drogheda and, following his spell up north, took charge of Verona in 2017.