Joe Redmond: 'I made the decision to come home and thankfully it was the right one'

St Pat's captain Joe Redmond

St Pat's captain Joe Redmond Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Joe Redmond admits that he made the ‘right decision’ to return home and play in the League of Ireland after being released by Birmingham City as a teenager.

Redmond, 23, was named as St Patrick’s Athletic captain earlier this year following Ian Bermingham’s retirement at the end of the 2022 season.

And the defender has also shone for the Ireland Under-21s while at the Saints – having previously impressed with Drogheda United after initially coming home from the UK.

But it was not easy for the Dubliner to part ways with Birmingham after missing out on a professional contract at the club after a spell with the Blues academy.

“Coming back from England was not easy,” he told the Extratime Podcast. 

“But I knew that I wanted to play games and build up a footballing CV. Going to Drogheda was great for me to just get experience in the League of Ireland.”

Redmond moved to England when he turned 16 after being on the books of Kilnamanagh, Crumlin United and St Joseph’s Boys.

But it was at St Joseph’s where he earned his move to England and began his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

“I had a couple of trials before when I was 13 or 14,” he explained. “But Birmingham were the first to make an offer and I went for it. I moved over when I was 16…

“I saw a lot of players going away and that was what I wanted to do. That was nearly the be all and end all. The experience I got over there was second to none in terms of training and facilities.

“But sometimes it doesn’t go to plan with breaking into the first-team.

“There are a lot of boys that come back home and it is tough at the time. But sometimes it can make or break you.”

And that departure from the Blues has revitalised Redmond who has established himself as one of the top players in the League of Ireland Premier Division since returning.

Yet, that did not make the blow of being told he was being released by Birmingham any easier to take at the time.

“I was told late on that I wasn’t being kept,” the defender revealed. “We had a good group and won the Under-23s league. It was a few weeks before the final when we found out.

“It was a tough conversation to have. You spent five years there and you dedicated your life to it..

“You think at the time, ‘where is this going to go’ and ‘where does this leave me now’… I made the decision to come home and thankfully it was the right one.”

Since then, players at 16 are now unable to join English clubs at the age of 16 – with many staying at home and gaining experience in senior League of Ireland football.

And if Redmond was that age now, he admits the prospect of playing senior football could only be of benefit just as it was for Sam Curtis and recently departed Saints duo James Abankwah and Darragh Burns.

“When you are with the Under-23s and they’re speaking about men’s football and getting experience, it can be quite hard to get a loan,” he added.

“There is a lot of trust put in you playing and there are people’s careers and jobs on the line.. You look at Sam Curtis here who is flying and has got a lot of games under his belt.

“He wouldn’t have gotten that playing at Under-18s level. James Abankwah and Darragh Burns were the same.

“That has benefitted them going over there going into a first-team environment instead of going into an Under-18s where the standard isn’t as physically demanding as the League of Ireland.

“For me, maybe staying at home and playing games at a younger age – you never know what way things could have happened.

“But I think it will definitely benefit the league with younger boys staying and playing games before they go over.”