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Posts Tagged ‘ Shay Given ’

O’Neill Names Ireland Squad For Upcoming Games

fai

Martin O’Neill has named a provisional 36 man squad for Ireland’s upcoming games against Scotland and USA.

Starting away, Scotland host Ireland in a EURO 2016 qualifier on Friday, November 14 at 7.45pm, before Ireland take on the USA in Aviva Stadium in a Three International Friendly on November 18.

The squad will be shortened ahead of meeting up on November 10. Continue reading

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Five Irish Players Who Need A Move This August

kdAs all football fans know, the summer transfer window is a time of upheaval with fresh starts, new challenges and last chances for managers and players alike. However, sometimes there is a select few players that may be in need of a move to rekindle or enhance their international career.

Here we take a look at five Irish stars who all need a move before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August. Continue reading

Hoolahan Starts As Ireland Aim To Conquer The Faroes

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has named his starting eleven for tonight’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands at the Aviva Stadium.

With James McCarthy and Shane Long suspended for the game, Trapattoni has been forced to make changes from the side which drew 1-1 with England at Wembley. Continue reading

The Irish Goalkeeping Dilemma

westwoodWe’ve always been known as a nation that produces top goalkeepers, from Packie Bonner to Shay Given and to the more than capable deputies who filled their void upon their absence, not that the performance of one Paddy Kenny in Larnaca falls into this bracket. Continue reading

Four Uncapped Players In Irish Squad For Poland Clash

jhNorwich City’s Anthony Pilkington has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad to face Poland next month.

Pilkington, a standout performer in the Premier League this season had been capped at Under-21 level back in 2008. The decision to call up the 24 year old will go down well with fans who feel it should have happened a lot sooner. Continue reading

Belgians Show Ireland That Success Starts At Home

European football is currently witnessing a revolution, one that has been simmering under the limelight for the past few seasons but is now fully realising its potential.

The football world has become synonymous with names like Dembele, Hazard and Verthongen, the backbone of a blossoming Belgium side that many are tipping for future success. Belgium, like Ireland, has never exactly been a football haven. There national side has enjoyed more success than Ireland in terms of qualifying for events but still it’s nothing worth bragging about. At club level its pretty much a similar story as Belgian teams have had limited success on the European front. Where it not for Anderlecht and Standard Liege then this revolution may not have been possible.

To the aforementioned trio add the names of Kompany, Vermaelen, Defour, Witsel, Fellaini and Lukaku, all household names on the European stage and it’s not hard to see why this team managed by Belgian hero Marc Wilmots looks set to shine. Throw rising stars in there such as Mirallas, Alderweireld and De Bruyne and one begins to instantly wonder how this team never made it to Euro 2012. Perhaps the Euros came too soon but Belgium were quite unlucky finishing two points off a playoff spot in what was a tough qualification group featuring a German side who won ten out of ten and a Turkish outfit  who narrowly pipped Belgium to second place.

The new golden generation of Belgium looks set to outshine its predecessors, who reached six successive World Cup’s between 1982-2002, which included a  4th place finish in 1986. They even finished as runners up at Euro 1980. Wilmots side have enjoyed a solid start to qualifying for Brazil 2014 grinding out a 2-0 win over Wales and a 1-1 draw with Croatia which is no mean feat, Irish fans would certainly agree.

But for all the prospects and potential this Belgian team has one wonders how Ireland cannot produce such a model for success giving we are country of a similar nature. Yes the Belgian population is double that of Ireland but in reality what does population matter if one has correct infrastructure?

The Belgian FA have incorporated a model for success, they are willing to do everything possible to provide themselves with success. The vision of Belgian football is quickly changing thanks in large part to the motivational factor whereby such a small country takes pride from punching well above their weight. Ireland have a similar outlook yet finances dictate success. Nonetheless the quality of the current Belgium team compared to Ireland is astounding as any of the Belgian players would walk into the Irish set up.

In recent years we have witnessed a reversal of our fortunes. The old guard of Given and Duff have retired while Dunne and Keane are on their last leg. Our input into European competition and the Premier League has steadily declined year after year. After all, how many Irish players will feature in this year’s Champions League?

Contrast this steady decline with the fortunes of the respective clubs in Belgium and Ireland. This season sees Anderlecht make a welcomed return to the Champions League group stages, a feat the 31 time Belgian champions last enjoyed in the 2006/07 season. The Belgian champions boast ten Belgians in their squad. Combine this ten with the current Belgian stars at other Champions League clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Zenit and it’s not hard to see the Belgians mean business. Meanwhile, Aiden McGeady holds his head high as Ireland’s sole Champions League representative and League of Ireland clubs remain light-years’ away from reaching Europe’s premier club competition.

Of course we can talk with a bit more excitement when it comes to the Europa League. After all Shamrock Rovers did enjoy success qualifying for the group stages last year. However this historic feat was quickly forgotten as the Hoops failed to earn a single point and bowed out of the competition. How long will we wait for another Irish club to break such ground, something the Belgian sides do year upon year with relative ease.

The old adage that success starts at home is universally true. This rising Belgian outfit would be nothing where it not for the backing it’s football association affords its national league. Contrast this with Ireland and the ever lacking FAI involvement in the League of Ireland and it’s not hard to see why we are struggling at both international and club level. Indeed it says something about the difference between the LOI and the Pro League when you consider the numerous Irish stars who had to move abroad in recent years to get a sniff at pulling on the green jersey.

So while Wilmots leads this golden generation onto bigger and better things Irish fans can only wonder what might have been if the FAI had a similar dedication to that of their Belgian counterparts. The longer the FAI are devoid of hope and enthusiasm the longer Irish football as a whole will suffer.

 

Communication Scandal Envelops Ireland Setup

Ireland kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign this week with a trip to Astana for a first ever meeting with Kazakhstan but preparations for the campaign have been far from rosy.

Communication problems coupled with player retirements and withdrawals have hampered the plans of Giovanni Trapattoni. The retirement of veterans Shay Given and Damien Duff have become something of a blow to Trap yet the changeover should only be cosmetic as both Keiren Westwood and James McClean are able deputies.

But it is the apparent communication problems within the camp that have Irish fans wondering whether everyone in the panel is pulling in the same direction. Since Trap took the hotseat four years ago many players have come and gone , some willingly and others forced. Four names instantly jump to mind when wondering why the wily Italian’s tenure has been somewhat blighted with miscommunication.

Darren Gibson has pulled out of the Kazakh game citing his disappointment for not featuring at Euro 2012 as the reason behind his decision. Interestingly the Derry born player took his time in making the decision, waiting a number of days after the squad was announced to state his intentions. The in-form Everton star is no doubt riled at the fact that he didn’t feature at Euro 2012 and some reports even go as far as saying he almost walked out on the team during the tournament. While that may be mere speculation, Gibson is the latest in a line of players who have become fed up with the Italian’s antics.

You have to cast your mind back to the early days of the Trap era to see the apparent communication problems that ultimately led to the end of Andy Reid’s international career. The former Milan supremo imposed a curfew upon the Ireland team, one which was broken by several players including a guitar wielding Reid. His refusal to go to bed saw Trapattoni bring a sudden end to Reid’s once promising international career, a decision that has been met with furore by players and fans alike.

Pre Euro 2012 and post Euro 2012 have thrown up two other miscommunication conundrums which show that even with an interpreter it would appear Trapattoni still fails to get his message across.

Kevin Foley was a member of the Ireland squad which earned qualification for Euro 2012. The Wolves star was initially named in Trap’s squad for the trip to Poland and Ukraine despite picking up a hamstring injury. He was promised he would be given every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of the tournament yet on the morning of the squad announcement he was cut from the panel and replaced Paul McShane, a move that left him “betrayed” and began a self imposed exile from the Ireland set up.

West Brom star Shane Long is another to have felt the wrath of the Italian in the wake of the recent Serbia friendly. Long was originally named to start in attack but shortly beforehand he was omitted and replaced by Simon Cox. He was furious and initially it appeared Trap’s reasoning was valid, the player was legitimately injured. However Long was quick to reveal he wasn’t , telling reporters after the game that he was perfectly fit to play the full 90 minutes. He would go on to feature for his club a few days later. His omission has raised a lot of questions about the communication skills of the Irish management team. In the days that followed Trapattoni launched a stinging attack on his striker branding him “idiotic”. While the misdemeanours of all involved havn’t resulted in Long’s omission from the squad it has raised many eyebrows amongst fans and media alike.

The communication problems have been further heightened by Gibson’s withdrawal ahead of such a crucial game. Gibson has been assured that he is more than welcome back into the Ireland set up for the Germany game next month yet the Everton star’s personal exclusion may well put an end to his Ireland career as he will fall down the pecking order if he prolongs his absence.

But what fans and the media really want to know and deserve to know is what the hell is going on behind the scenes? It is evidently clear that there are problems yet many are choosing to blow them under the carpet but not Shane Long. He has stood defiant with his actions following the Serbia game and rightly so, no player should suffer the indecency of having to offer a different excuse than that of his manager. Why wasn’t Trap honest about Long’s exclusion?

How can we prepare for such key games and expect to qualify for the World Cup with such turmoil? The FAI need to intervene immediately and eradicate the friction within the panel or else they risk allowing a manager whose pockets are laden with their money ruin the hopes of a nation.

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