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Posts Tagged ‘ Stephen Ward ’

O’Neill Names Ireland Squad For Upcoming Games

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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

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

League of Ireland football – For The Love, Not The Money

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League of Ireland football,Why not get involved?

Sligo Rovers are the latest winners of the League of Ireland. They play at the Showgrounds. The normal capacity? Just over 2,000. Which begs the question; why not follow your local team? Why not get interested in the League of Ireland? In this article I’ll be writing about the good and bad things about the League of Ireland. Hopefully, by the end of reading this article you will be interested in following your local team.

Cast your mind back to the summer of 2011. Can you remember reading in the news that Irish club Shamrock Rovers  became the first League of Ireland side to qualify for the Europa League group stages? I’m sure you do. They made history, despite being only and I quote “a small team playing in the Irish league.” Or who can forget the recent European exploits of St Patrick’s Athletic who wrapped up a number of scalps including Elfsborg, Shaktar Karagandy and Olimps Riga to name but a few.

Most League of Ireland fans follow foreign teams, with English, Spanish and Italian teams proving very popular. I’m not giving out about that, as they follow their local football team aswel. No, I’m hammering the one’s that pay no attention to the League of Ireland despite it being right on their doorstep. I mean, what else do you be doing on a Friday night for two hours that you can’t get to your local footballing ground? No excuses. Surely you would get a greater thrill from attending a match than shouting at a television screen?

Even LOI fans nowadays will tell you that getting involved in their local football team was the best thing they have ever done. The atmosphere in the League has been outstanding. Sligo Rovers ‘ultra’ group, Forza Rovers, are by far the best fans in the league. They constantly put on massive fans displays with other fan groups such as The Shed End Invincibles of St Patrick’s Athletic not far behind.

If some fans saw their displays in England, Spain or elsewhere they would never stop chatting about such displays. Another thing you get is how close the players are within the clubs’ fan base; nearly every fan of a club knows the players on a personal level. You just don’t get that feeling in the English Premier League or elsewhere, it’s implausible to think of.

When I first got writing about League of Ireland football I sensed the ‘buzz’ around stadiums on match-days between the home & away fans. Yes, there are problems within fan groups, Bohemians Vs.  Shamrock Rovers being the main example, but you get a small minority of people that are not there to support their team rather they are there to cause violence but you can’t blame the league on this. Hooliganism and fan related violence is predominant all across Europe and the wider footballing world.

The quality of the League of Ireland is apparent for all to see, just take a look at the Irish national team. Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Stephen Ward, Seamus Coleman, James McClean, Keith Fahey, David Meyler and David Forde all passed through the League of Ireland enroute to wearing the green jersey. Indeed, Coleman and McClean made a great transition from the humble surroundings of League of Ireland to the lofty heights of the English Premiership, both are now feared by many. So what are you waiting for? The league possesses a number of talents capable of following in their footsteps, why not come check them out.

I hope this article not only encourages you but encourages some of your pals to come along to a match when the season returns in March. Cheer on your local football team and follow all the coverage right here on Irish News Review.

Alex Murray

Boys In Green Look To Set Premier League Alight

The Premier League kicks off next weekend and Irish fans will have a keen eye on proceedings as the World Cup qualifiers loom. Following a poor Euro 2012 campaign, Irish fans will be eager to see the Boys In Green performing well for their clubs before Kazakhstan and Germany come calling.

Something that has become a recent trend is the number of Irish stars who are dropping down a level and this trend has certainly been prevalent this summer. Both Keith Andrews and Simon Cox have swapped West Brom for The Championship while Darren O’Dea scored a surprising move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC. Of course with Wolves been relegated that further reduces the number of Irish players plying their trade in the top flight. Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt and Kevin Foley all look set to remain at Molineux and help the club bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt. Sean St Ledger, Keith Fahey, David Forde and Paddy Kenny will also be prominent features in the Championship this term while the likes of Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady are still plying their trade outside the British Isles.

But what about those Irish players remaining in the Premier League?

Everton will be hoping to qualify for Europe this term and will be buoyed by the fact that they have retained the services of long serving manager David Moyes, who spurned the advances of Spurs after Harry Redknapp was dismissed from White Hart Lane. Moyes has added smartly to his squad given his limited resources with both Stephen Pienaar and Steven Naismith joining The Toffees. Much is expected of the free scoring Nikica Jelavic but this hardworking Everton outfit will be largely reliant on the skill and tenacity of Seamus Coleman combined with the graft and experience of Darren Gibson, who seems rejuvenated having left Manchester United last January. Shane Duffy will be hoping to establish himself in The Toffees defence following some superb displays last term.

Robbie Brady will be hoping to break into the senior international set up quite soon. The Manchester United player has enjoyed a solid pre season and Alex Ferguson sees him as an adequate competitor for Patrice Evra’s full back position. With Evra ageing, Brady’s time looks set to be on the horizon although few would have expected the winger to convert to a full back following his tremendous displays on loan at Hull City last season

James McClean will be hoping to maintain his sensational start to life in the Premier League with Sunderland. Martin O’Neill will have his first full season at the Stadium of Light and despite the lack of transfer activity on Wearside you can expect Sunderland to push for a top ten finish while enjoying a solid cup run. John O’Shea will continue to hold up the rearguard while Keiren Westwood looks resigned to a number two role yet again. David Meyler will be hoping to have an injury free season and catch the eye of Giovanni Trapattoni in the process.

Hope springs eternal at Villa Park as the new season ushers in the era of Paul Lambert as Aston Villa boss. The club have overhauled their managerial structure and have rid of some players who simply weren’t up to scratch. There is still a strong Irish contingent at Villa Park though and it remains to be seen whether Shay Given and Richard Dunne will pack in international football in order to further their club careers. Ciaran Clark will be hoping for another solid season while under 21 star Samir Carruthers may well break into the first team following his substitute appearances last term. Stephen Ireland will be looking to re-establish himself among the Premiership elite and could be a key player for Lambert who will be aiming for a top eight finish and perhaps a league cup win. Keep an eye out for Enda Stevens, Graham Burke and Derrick Williams, three upcoming Irish stars who may well burst onto the scene this year.

Fulham are another side hoping to crack the top eight this term following a ninth place finish last season under the guidance of Martin Jol. The Dutchman has done well to retain the services of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele thus far as both players have courted interest from many clubs. Damien Duff and Stephen Kelly will be hoping to pick themselves up following Euro 2012. Duff will be looking to recover his form of old while Kelly, who recently signed a new contract, will be hoping to fend off new signing Sascha Riether to make the right back spot his own.

West Brom will do well to build on their tenth place finish from last term. Steve Clarke has taken over at the helm and opted to show Andrews and Cox the door. Steven Reid and Shane Long both remain at The Hawthorns and the latter will face increased competition for a starting berth this term following the arrivals of Markus Rosenberg and Romelu Lukaku.

Jon Walters will be hoping to set the Premier League alight this term following his appearances at Euro 2012. The striker will be hoping he can find the golden touch to fire The Potters to a better finish than last year. Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson and Rory Delap all remain at the Britannia and will be key players as Tony Pulis’ side seek to build on a 14th place finish.

Wigan Athletic will be looking to avoid the drop again this season and will be delighted that manager Roberto Martinez has stayed with them. Martinez masterminded their terrific end of season form last year which saw solid wins over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. With limited resources he will do well to repeat that feat. There will be a heavy reliance on James McCarthy, who was a key player last term and was forced to miss Euro 2012 due to his father’s illness. Conor Sammon is the only other Irish player at the DW Stadium but for all his apparent strength goals have been hard to come by for the ex League of Ireland star and he will need a big change if he plans on cracking Trap’s plans.

QPR have enjoyed a great summer with their new found wealth enabling them to buy talented stars such as Park Ji Sung and David Hoilett. It’s been all change at Loftus Road, particularly in the goalkeeper ranks where Paddy Kenny has departed for Leeds United. Brian Murphy remains with QPR as a capable deputy to new number one Robert Green. Mark Hughes side shouldn’t have to worry about having another relegation battle this season.

Norwich City will be hoping second season syndrome doesn’t strike this term. It’s been all change at Carrow Road with ex Ireland international Chris Hughton replacing Lambert in the dugout. Hughton will do well to keep the Canaries up and will be looking to Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington as key players in doing so. Both players excelled last term with Hoolahan the most impressive. The former Shelbourne star has been unlucky this past week as he was forced to withdraw from Ireland’s friendly with Serbia due to injury. Nonetheless, he will be buoyed by the fact that he has finally caught the eye of Trapattoni. Marc Tierney may well earn an Ireland call up in the near future and the full back is one worth watching.

Premier League newcomers Reading will be aiming for top flight survival this term but under the guidance of Irishman Brian McDermott many expect that to be a formality. Promoted last season as champions, this Reading side features a host of Irish players. Following an impressive season last year Ian Harte was widely tipped for a shock return to the Ireland set up for Euro 2012. While that never happened it won’t discourage the ex Leeds United star who will be hoping to show he still possesses the quality to compete in the top flight. Noel Hunt will be hoping to blaze a goal trail which will earn him a return to the Ireland side while Jay Tabb is another Irish star involved with the first team. Pierce Sweeney, recently signed from League of Ireland side Bray Wanderers, may feature this term while ex Shamrock Rovers ace Karl Sheppard has been loaned to Accrington Stanley.

Playoff winners West Ham United have returned to the Premier League and will have solid ambitions which won’t feature a relegation battle. Sam Allardyce has added some fine talent to his squad and has made Irish keeper Stephen Henderson permanent, following a loan spell from Portsmouth last season. Joey O’Brien is the only other Irish player at Upton Park and he will be hoping for a standout season having been called up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming Serbia game. The three times capped star hasn’t pulled on the green jersey in over four years and will be hoping he can re-establish himself within the Irish setup. The 26 year old certainly has time on his side and time will tell if he can live up to the hype that was associated with him during his days with Bolton Wanderers.

With the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching and Trapattoni open to shuffling his pack, the time is ripe for a new star to emerge and stake his claim for a starting place.

Conservative Trap Names Predictable Euro 2012 Squad

“It has not been easy choosing 23 players because we have many other very good players who deserve to be here.”  The words used by the wily tactician that is Giovanni Trapattoni as he announced his squad for the 2012 European Championships. Despite the Ireland manager’s quotes to the context, it would have been a difficult decision to decide the vast majority of the players who are now in the squad.

At half three yesterday the Italian announced his squad for Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign. The squad featured: 

Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, David Forde, Richard Dunne, John O’Shea, Sean St. Ledger, Darren O’Dea, Stephen Ward, Stephen Kelly, Kevin Foley, Glenn Whelan, Darren Gibson, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Stephen Hunt, James McClean, Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Simon Cox, Shane Long, Jonathan Walters.

Standby: Darren Randolph, Paul McShane, Paul Green, Seamus Coleman, Andy Keogh.

The phrase “as expected” comes to mind when describing the squad, which is far from a bad thing. Continuity is a necessity at international level, something Trapattoni and his team have done right over his tenure as Republic of Ireland manager.

The first 11 picks itself, Given, O’Shea, Dunne, St.Ledger, Ward, Duff, Andrews, Whealan, McGeady, Keane, Doyle. The squad members are there to be used but only if necessary. The likes of James McClean, Stephen Hunt, Jonathan Walters, Shane Long and Simon Cox will have a good chance of getting on the pitch in Poland with the latter trio more then likely to replace Kevin Doyle after he runs himself into the ground. But aside from that, injuries not withstanding there will be very little change in the team.

James McCarthy will be one player who will not be on the plane to Poland after announcing his decision to withdraw from consideration after his father was diagnosed with cancer. “I have made the very difficult decision to withdraw my name from selection from the Euro 2012 squad following the diagnosis of my father with cancer and an ongoing requirement for treatment” he stated.

“I have discussed this with the manager. He was very understanding and I thank him sincerely for that.”I take this opportunity to re-affirm my complete commitment to playing for the Republic of Ireland, It is a huge honour and source of great pride for me and my family.”

He went on to wish his teammates luck stating “despite not being present, I would like to wish the manager and my team-mates every success at the tournament and hope that Irish fans can understand the reason for my decision at this difficult time.”

Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign starts on Sunday June 10th in Poznan when the Republic of Ireland takes on Croatia. Four days later on June 14th they take on world and European Champions Spain in Gdansk. The final fixture takes place on Monday June 18th when the boys in green take on Italy.

Has Trapattoni got his squad right? Will the team be good enough to compete with Spain, Italy and Croatia? Can the team advance beyond the group stage? All interesting questions all will be answered next month.

Young Irish Abroad #5 Greg Cunningham

20 year old Galway native Greg Cunningham is the first player to feature in the series “young Irish abroad” that has been capped for Giovanni Trappatoni’s Ireland.

The young star has resurfaced as an emerging young talent following a serious injury picked up at the start of 2011. The Manchester city left full back fractured his tibia while on loan at Leicester City. At the time he had shown much promise playing twelve games, until being ruled out for 4 months.

For Cunningham, who began his career with Mervue United, the emergence of Stephen Ward as an Ireland regular has been a disappointment for him, as Ward has all but sewn up that role for the European Championships. The former Mervue star is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest, and is in a consistent run of form, starting the last seven on the bounce. He is a good strong naturally left footed full back, and can play left midfield also. His relative youth means he is a definite star in terms of the future, but his experience in Trap’s set up, having played three times since his debut against Algeria in the RDS. His recovery back from a bad injury also shows a battling quality and determination which is to be admired in any player.

Cunningham, who is 21 in the new year, knows that it will be difficult to shuffle his way back into Trapattoni’s plans before the EURO 2012 squad is announced “It would be brilliant to even get the attention of Mr Trapattoni over the next few months, of course I would love to play in the finals like every Irish player,” Cunningham said speaking to the Evening Herald arlier this year. “It’s going to be very difficult for any of us young lads to get into that squad but I want to make it hard for the manager to not pick me, that means doing as well as I can for Forest — or Man City if I go back there when the loan is up in the New Year.”

Like previous players in the series, he will find it very difficult to get into the squad, but will strive to be there none the less.

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