DAME N’DOYE may have netted the all-important winner for Hull City a week ago but it owed everything to a delightful cross by Robbie Brady from the left flank.
What few of the sell-out crowd at the KC Stadium knew, however, as they celebrated a potentially season-defining three points was that the Irishman had endured a week from hell before bravely stepping up to play against Queens Park Rangers.
His 13-month-old daughter, Halle, was seriously ill back home in Dublin and in hospital. Brady had rushed to be by her side and it was only on the Friday morning before QPR that the toddler’s condition had improved sufficiently for the full-back to fly back into Yorkshire.
Steve Bruce, after a chat with Brady, decided to start the 23-year-old in such an important fixture and was rewarded with a fine display down the left flank and ‘that’ cross for N’Doye to head in a last-minute winner.
“We had a little bump in the road,” says Brady when asked about the drama that turned his world upside down earlier this month.
“She wasn’t well and in hospital. I felt I needed to be with her for a few days and I was. We are just normal people, at the end of the day. It is just as real for us when something like that happens.
“Family is what comes first for us, just like for anyone else. Halle felt sick and just got worse.
“It is not nice seeing them so small and not being able to do much about it when they are not well. You have got to be there and be strong for them.
“Thankfully, she has picked up now and all is good. She is almost back to full health. It was just a bad virus she had but when they are so small, it is hard for them to fight it off. All is well now, she is all good.”
Brady’s scare over the health of his daughter happily passed, and the Irish international is now fully focused on City’s fight to avoid relegation.
A seven-point haul from three games in February has given Hull a major lift and another win today would mean the club had achieved its biggest points haul in a month as a Premier League club, beating the previous best of nine set in 2008-09.
“I had my heart set on playing last week, especially having just got back into the team,” said Brady. “It was hard against 10 men to break them down.
“And after goalkeeper Rob Green made the save (from N’Doye), I thought we were never going to score.
“But we kept at it and luckily enough we got the goal.
“When the ball left my foot, I did think, ‘this has got a chance and if someone’s in the right area, they will score’.
“All credit to Dame, he was head and shoulders above the ball and it was going nowhere else but the back of the net.”
A repeat today, of course, would do very nicely, especially with City’s next two games being against fellow strugglers, Sunderland (on Tuesday) and Leicester City (March 14).
A decent points haul from those games and the Tigers are likely to head into the next international break at the end of the month on something of a high, regardless of how the home fixture against Chelsea on March 22 pans out in their battle to remain in the top flight.
For Brady, the break will mean a return to the Republic of Ireland’s quest to book a place at Euro 2016.
The Irish are one of three sides on seven points that are chasing leaders Poland, who are due to visit Dublin on the final Sunday of next month.
“I think you always have an eye out for games like that,” said Brady when asked about the forthcoming encounter with the Group D leaders.
“It will be tough. It is a massive game for us at home and we are looking forward to it.
“The lads are playing well at their clubs and they seem to be picking up some good results of late so, hopefully, we can carry that into the Poland game and get that result we need. We feel confident going into the game and we think we can get a result.”
Considering the number of Irish players in the Hull squad and the fact that Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters are likely to start for Stoke today, it would not be a major surprise if either Martin O’Neill or assistant Roy Keane were present at the Britannia Stadium.
Keane has become something of a regular at the KC this term and Brady admits to usually being told before kick-off if the one-time Manchester United captain is in the stand.
“It is good when he does come to watch us,” said the left-sided player. “And especially when you play because it is a good platform.
“Everyone is looking to start in it and we really look forward to it going into the games.
“Hopefully, whoever is there will be more impressed with us coming out of the game with a win rather than the Stoke lads.
“Playing for Ireland at senior level is something that I have always dreamed of and now that it is here it is great.
“It has been a stop-start but I am just looking forward to hitting the ground running, cementing a place in the team and putting in good performances especially in that game against Poland.
“With the team playing so well and to be a part of that gives you a bit of confidence. When you are putting in decent performances yourself, it obviously gives you a bit of a boost.
“So, I will be determined to keep on playing well over the next few weeks and then, hopefully, I can start in that very important qualifying game against Poland.”