Tuesday, February 24, 2009

O'Brien determined to fight for place in Trapattoni's squad.

Motherwell winger Jim O'Brien is determined to break into the Ireland senior squad - even if he suffers the same abuse dished out to James McCarthy & Aidan McGeady.

The Fir Park winger has, like Hamilton rival McCarthy, opted to represent Ireland on the international stage.

Jim lived with his grandad John, who moved to Scotland at 18, for a decade before his death in 2000. From that moment the ex-Celtic kid vowed to play for Ireland and has represented ‘The Boys In Green’ at U19 & U21 levels.

Now a regular for Motherwell, O'Brien believes he can catch the eye of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni and force his way into the Italian's plans for the future.
If he succeeds, Jim is likely to face the same sectarianism endured every week by Hamilton wonderkid James McCarthy, from fans who seem intent on bringing shame on the SPL.

But the 21-year-old insists he's ready for anything the bigots throw at him if it means a call-up.

Jim said: "The international scene has never left my mind. I believe I can make the Ireland set-up but it's about playing consistently well here, If I'm playing every week here I don't see why I can't break in to the squad. There are guys in the Irish league who have been capped and the SPL is a better standard.

"The stick James gets is poor. But if fans believe they can put someone off their game they'll do it. I used to get abuse warming-up at Ibrox but you have to get on with it. It doesn't seem to bother James because he is doing well. And if I get stick, it won't bother me".

"I've made a decision I'm willing to stick to. I had a great connection with my grandad and wanted to play for him after he died. Hopefully a cap will come."

After a slow start at Fir Park, O'Brien is now starting to fulfil the potential he showed at Celtic. He was tipped to make an impact in Gordon Strachan's side but the breakthrough never came. O'Brien spent time on loan at Dunfermline two years ago and helped them reach the Scottish Cup Final against the Hoops.

He was devastated when Strachan refused him permission to play at Hampden because of fears he wouldn't be accepted by Celtic fans if he'd prevented them winning the trophy.

O’Brien said: "The cup final was probably the end of my Celtic career. You want to play on the big occasions but I didn't get the chance at Hampden. Gordon didn't want me to miss out but after thinking it through, he changed his mind".

"I might have been the difference that day because it was a tight game that Celtic won 1-0. Gordon said I could hardly play in the cup final, do something against them, then go back and expect to get in the team. I don't hold grudges. But last season I didn't get a fair crack of the whip at Celtic".

"There were cup games where I felt I could have played and people were telling me my chance was coming. Aiden McGeady was suspended for an Old Firm match and I was tipped to start. Sadly Phil O'Donnell died and the game was postponed. But I got a clean break by coming here and want to do well."

O'Brien is adamant he can help the Steelmen put a serious dent in Celtic's title hopes today on Fir Park's dodgy pitch.

Jim said: "We can have a say in the title race by getting results against Rangers and Celtic, especially on that pitch.

"We're on a good run and Celtic have hit a sticky patch. I want to show what they missed out on."

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