Mick McCarthy was on Sky Sport’s Fantasy Football Club last week to pick his best eleven of players he’s lined out with. Proving that the former Irish boss bleeds green, his selection is dominated by team-mates from his time as player and captain of the Boys in Green.
Martin O’Neill has announced his first squad as Ireland manager for the friendly with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium next month. There’s been no recall for Shay Given, whose loan spell at Middlesbrough expires at the end of February. Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy makes a return to the squad but there’s no room for Stephen Ireland. Although O’Neill oversaw the games with Latvia and Poland, he inherited those selections from interim coach Noel King.
The late great Tom Finney, who died at the weekend aged 91, was the only scorer in the first meeting of Ireland, under the banner of the FAI, and England at Dalymount Park in 1946. Just two days after his début, Finney broke Irish hearts, a feat he would repeat over a storied career.
Former Irish manager Steve Staunton has told BT Sport that he achieved his goals as Ireland boss, meeting the demands set by the FAI board. Speaking to Life’s a Pitch, the former player and captain also spoke about Saipan, Roy Keane’s return, and his time in the Republic hotseat.
“He’s English on the outside, but, pure Irish on the inside.” The elderly woman in the ‘Western’ pub in Liverpool was referring to her grandson, Wayne Rooney. Most are Toffees in this part of Merseyside and Aiden McGeady’s arrival at Goodison Park to bolster the green contingent is a reminder that traditionally Everton were the Irish club in the city. The common football phrase “Taxi for” even owes its origins to a former Irish manager.
Two games into the reign of O’Neill/Keane and the shot in the arm to Irish soccer has been like an adrenaline rush following the tedium of Trap’s last days. A positive display against Latvia followed by more of the same in Poland before an element of tiredness set in has given everyone reason for optimism. If only we’d had this six months ago. Here’s ten talking points.
The O’Neill era got off to a winning start as Ireland posted a 3-0 victory over Latvia at the Aviva Stadium. After the match, the new boss expressed his delight with the performance of his players.
There’s an Irish sporting myth that broadcasting legend Jimmy Magee can claim some small credit for Edson Arantes do Nascimento becoming known as Pelé. Similarly the Memory Man also had a part to play in the rechristening of Ireland’s new keeper of the faith.
Greg Bolger’s stunning strike against Sligo Rovers sent St. Patrick’s Athletic on their way to the league title.
It seems it has only been in the wake of Giovanni Trapatonni’s departure, that Irish football has begun some serious soul-searching. The Italian’s time in charge has polarised the debate on whether the manager was to blame for the senior team’s ills, or as many are grappling with; ‘We just don’t have the players’. And yet, is John Delaney, Irish soccer’s kingmaker, ignoring the opportunity to change the strategy?