Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cynical IFA attempt to block Irish players international future

Yet again the Irish Football Association is attempting to stop players born in the North of Ireland from having an international career with their country.

They have announced that they have approached the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a bid to stop players born in the North from representing Trapattoni’s Ireland.

In recent years FIFA have found in favour of the FAI on this issue, stating that people born in the North are Irish citizens and so have the right to represent Ireland at international level.

This latest cynical attempt at blocking players representing Ireland is causing outrage within the Nationalist community in the North and is likely to further damage the reputation of the IFA who have long been accused of turning a blind eye to the rapid sectarianism that infested the terraces and stands at Windsor Park throughout the last four decades. Following the death threats and sectarian chanting directed at Neil Lennon a number of years ago and the potential withdrawal of sponsors, the IFA introduced a programme to try and address the sectarian issues, and while it has had some success, the IFA have failed to address the issue of the English anthem and unionist flag being used at international games, despite their pronouncements of creating a neutral environment for supporters.

Speaking to the Irish news yesterday, the FAI’s Director of communications Peter Sherrard said “Our position would be that FIFA have already found in our favour in a number of cases like this and so any appeal against the FAI would effectively be an appeal against FIFA’a previous decisions".

The IFA decision has also prompted a political response from parties representing the Nationalist population in the North. Sinn Fein’s Paul Maskey said yesterday “We are aware of this issue and have, and will continue to support the right of Irish players from all over the 32 counties to play for the Irish team. The association (IFA) has not grasped the view, wishes and rights of players who want to play for the republic. We will continue to raise this at every level to ensure that the ruling made by FIFA is the one that is kept”. The SDLP’s PJ Bradley & Alex Attwood are examining the latest move by the IFA and its Fermanagh representative Tommy Gallagher said yesterday “We are definitely supporting those who wish to play for our Country”.

The Irish Football Association need to understand that for a huge number of football supporters and players in the North, the natural home for our international allegiances will always be at Lansdowne Road and not Windsor Park.

Perhaps the IFA president should take off his orange sash for a moment and listen to the players concerned

Marc Wilson “It’s the best honour you can get to represent your country – it’s always been a dream of mine to play for Ireland”

Darron Gibson “It was unbelievable you know, making the debut for your country. Everyone from Derry wants to play for Ireland. I grew up supporting Ireland, so it was a natural choice for me”

Shane Duffy’s Father "Shane told me it has always been his ambition to play for the Republic of Ireland. I for one can't believe that it is now done and I'm delighted. It's always been his childhood dream to play for the Republic"

Another irony of whole eligibility issue is that it didn't stop Nigel Worthington turning the heads of two Manchester United kids, Joe Dudgeon and Oliver Norwood, both of whom played under-age football for England but appear to have chosen the North of Ireland. That's the problem with the IFA's constant spluttering on this issue. They see no problem whatsoever in persuading two English kids to play for the North but lose the plot completely when someone from Derry or Belfast chooses to represent Trapattoni's Ireland. It's a bizarre double standard.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Irish squad of 30 for U19 training camp

Ireland Under-19 manager Sean McCaffrey has announced a squad of 30 players for a training camp to be held at Bisham Abbey in England from February 28-March 4 as part of their preparations for the UEFA U-19 elite stage qualifiers in Ukraine.

The group will spend five days at the purpose-built training facility to begin working towards the qualifiers which take place from May 26-31. Ireland's route to the finals in France this July is a daunting one as they face both of last season's finalists in their group.

Receiving their first Under-19 call-ups of the season are Aaron McCarey (Wolves), Shaun Timmons (Birmingham City), David Cawley (Ipswich Town), Sean Kinsella (Plymouth Argyle), Nathan Rooney (Wolves), Ryan Connor (Stoke City), Gavan Holohan (Hull City).

Also receiving their first international call up's are Belfast players Daniel Kearns (West Ham United) and Daniel Devine (Preston North End).

League of Ireland clubs are well represented with Mervue United's recently-signed goalkeeper Ger Hanley joined in the panel by fellow netminder Ciaran Gallagher of Finn Harps, UCD defender Andy Boyle, Jimmy Keohane of Wexford Youths and Derry City brothers Shane and Paddy McEleney.

Ger Hanley - Mervue United
Ciaran Gallagher - Finn Harps
Aaron McCarey - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Johnny Dunleavy - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Richie Towell - Celtic
Callum O'Connor - Blackburn Rovers
Rob Kiernan - Watford (on loan to Kilmarnock)
Gavin Gunning - Blackburn Rovers (on loan to Rotterham United)
Andy Boyle - UCD
Daniel Devine - Preston North End
Shane McEleney - Derry City
Shaun Timmins - Birmingham City
Aaron Doran - Blackburn Rovers
Jimmy Keohane - Wexford Youths
Gearoid Morrissey - Blackburn Rovers
Conor Hourihane - Sunderland
Conor Henderson - Arsenal
David Cawley - Ipswich Town
Sean Kinsella - Plymouth Argyle
Nathan Rooney - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Ryan Connor - Stoke City
Stephen McDonnell - Unattached
Darren McCauley - Celtic
Gavan Holohan - Hull City
Robbie Brady - Manchester United
Daniel Kearns - West Ham United
Ronan Murray - Ipswich Town
Joe Mason - Plymouth Argyle
Jamil Adam - Barnsley
Paddy McEleney - Derry City.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shane Duffy confirms Ireland international future

Shane Duffy, the talented teenage Everton centre-half, has decided that his international future lies with Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland rather than the North.

The Derry born defender rose to prominence with the 'Toffees' this season when making two appearances for Everton in the Europa League against BATE Borisov and AEK Athens.

Both Duffy and his family are delighted that the issue has now been resolved and he can look forward to following in the footsteps of Derry’s other senior Irish international, Darron Gibson.

"As you can imagine, myself and the rest of the family are thrilled to bits now that he has made his decision," declared Mr. Duffy.

"Shane told me it has always been his ambition to play for the Republic of Ireland. I for one can't believe that it is now done and I'm delighted."

Mr. Duffy claimed that his son's decision was based on furthering his professional career and he remained extremely grateful for the experience and education he gained as part of the N. Ireland underage international set-up.

"It's always been his childhood dream to play for the Republic," added Brian. "He was brought up through the N. Ireland ranks but as time moved on he felt he would benefit more from playing with the Republic.
"Shane holds no ill feelings whatsoever towards N. Ireland and he remains extremely grateful for the experience he gained when playing for the N. Ireland international squad at youth level."

The Football Association of Ireland have since invited the Duffy family as their guests to the forthcoming friendly international against Brazil in Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on Tuesday next, March 2nd.

Mr. Duffy and his family, including Shane, have accepted that invitation and they expect to meet representatives of the FAI including former international and Arsenal legend, Liam Brady who, it's believed has been highly influential in securing the services of the Derry lad.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ireland squad named for Brazil friendly

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has announced a 23-man squad to face Brazil in the Emirates Stadium on 2 March.

Trapattoni has called-up uncapped Marc Wilson (Portsmouth), Greg Cunningham (Manchester City) and James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic) for the clash with Brazil. However, there is no place for ex-Bohemians goalkeeper Brian Murphy.

The squad will face a full strength Brazil side as Dunga and his players prepare for this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

Trapattoni said: 'I look forward to working with my squad again after the disappointment of Paris.

'The priority now is to build on the progress made during the last campaign and prepare ourselves over the coming months mentally and tactically for an important Euro campaign.'

Goalkeepers: Shay Given (Manchester City), Keiren Westwood (Coventry City), Joe Murphy (Scunthorpe United).

Defenders: Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Kevin Kilbane (Hull City), Kevin Foley (Wolves), Sean St Ledger (Preston North End), Paul McShane (Hull City), Marc Wilson (Portsmouth), Greg Cunningham (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Celtic), Damien Duff (Fulham), Darron Gibson (Manchester United), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Keith Andrews (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen Hunt (Hull City), Liam Lawrence (Stoke City), James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic).

Forwards:Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Robbie Keane (Celtic), Shane Long (Reading), Leon Best (Newcastle United).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marc Wilson Sunderland bound ?

Portsmouth star Marc Wilson is in the middle of a bitter war between the cashstrapped club and the Premier League.

The Premier League have blocked the young Irish centre half's £4million move to Sunderland but Pompey are still looking at ways of pulling off the club-saving transfer and may even appeal to FIFA.

Pompey have been stunned by the decision to pull the rug from deals that could rescue them from oblivion.

Their appeal to be allowed to flog players outside the transfer window caused uproar at rival topflight clubs. Even though there is a precedent for clubs 'in distress' to operate outside the window, Premier League chairmen demanded that the proposal was strangled at birth.

Pompey argue that Sunderland are ready to complete the transfer the moment they are given the go-ahead - and claim it is necessity if they are to pay this month's salaries.

If the Wilson move ultimately gets the go-ahead, it will be the signal for a string of departures from Fratton Park with several players expected to be sold.

The debt-ridden south coast club are keen to offload England keeper David James, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Nadir Belhadj in a desperate bid to raise cash to settle a £12m tax bill.

Friday, February 19, 2010

McCarthy - Kevin Doyle could go

One Team In Ireland : Wolves manager Mick McCarthy is resigned to losing star striker Kevin Doyle if one of the Premier League's big guns come in for him at the end of the season.

The £6.5million signing from Reading has impressed McCarthy with his all-round play, despite only scoring six goals this season.

McCarthy has deployed the Ireland international as a lone striker in a revamped 4-5-1 formation that has reaped rewards in recent weeks, with a 1-0 win over Tottenham and a point against Liverpool, which have lifted Wolves out of the relegation zone.

McCarthy said: "I'd hate to put a value on Kevin. He is a very, very good Premier League player.

"He is playing for a team scrapping at the bottom, he has scored his six goals, he has caused everyone he has played against problems.

"He started off with a hernia when he came here so he got off to a slow start, missed games, then came back and wasn't fully fit.

"But since he has got fit, he has proved to be the player he was two or three years ago in the Premier League when he scored 12-14 goals."

When asked if Doyle could become a target for clubs this summer, McCarthy admitted: "Look, when someone plays well, that goes with the territory.

"I never lose any sleep about anything like that, because I can't do anything about it.

"It doesn't concern me at all. Doyley came here and is loving it and, if we stay up, we are a Premier League club and he would still be loving it.

"But if someone like a Manchester United come in and ask and offer, it is bloody hard work then isn't it?"

McCarthy is unsurprised Doyle has made such an effective switch from operating in a 4-4-2 formation to his current role as the sole forward player.

He said: "Kevin is relishing it. He has played the role before. He has a very good understanding of it. He loves it. He is up against two centre-halves, occupies them for most of the game.

"I think he has got better. I thought he was a top-drawer signing or I wouldn't have paid what I paid for him when I went out and did it."

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Ireland kit unveiled

Ireland have released the first pictures of the new home kit for 2010/2011. The new kit will be worn for the first time when Ireland take on Brazil at the Emirates stadium on March 2nd.

Ireland to play Algeria & Paraguay

The Football Association of Ireland have confirmed that reland will play friendly matches against Paraguay and Algeria in the RDS on 25 May and 28 May respectively.

The matches will be the last home internationals before the Aviva Stadium, with the first game at the new ground set for 11 August against Argentina.

Ireland have previously only played one full international at the RDS, against Wales in 1992.

Algeria are in England's group in the 2010 World Cup and they will view this game as preparation for the clash with Fabio Capello's side in South Africa.

Ireland also play Brazil in the Emirates Stadium on 2 March.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ireland u17 2-0 Hungary u17

Under-17 Friendly International

Ireland 2-0 Hungary

IRELAND: Sean McDermott (Arsenal); Michael Barker (Belvedere), Richard Bryan (Aston Villa), Sean McGinty (Manchester United), Carl McHugh (Reading); Daniel Purdy (West Ham United), Frankie Sutherland (QPR), Shane Byrne (Leicester City), Anton Rogers (Chelsea); David Murphy (Reading), George Smith (Southend United).

Substitutions: Neil Yadolahi (Burnley) for Barker and Kevin Knight (Leicester City) for G. Smith (both h/t), Callum Webb (Arsenal) for Rodgers (66 mins), Conor Smith (Watford) for Purdy (68 mins)

Ireland Under-17 side recorded a comfortable victory over Hungary at Tolka Park on Tuesday in the first of this week's double-header friendly.

Goals by Frankie Sutherland and Daniel Purdy gave the Irish a morale-booting result to put them in confident mood for next month's UEFA Championship elite phase qualifiers in Greece.

The shooting power of Sutherland was on show from as early as the eight minute when the Queen's Park Rangers midfielder unleashed a shot from 25 yards which sailed inches over the crossbar.

Seven minutes later, Hungary sensed an opening when the home defence retreated to allow Fejes have a pot at goal. His effort took a deflection off the outstretched leg of Irish captain Sean McGinty into the path of Laszlo Erdelyi but he sliced wide from a good position.

The Hungarians were beginning to carry the greater threat in attack and gave Ireland a couple of scares inside a minute. Bence Serfozo's effort only veered wide due to McGinty's intervention on 19 minutes and, from the resulting corner, Vecsei was unmarked at the back post but couldn't direct his header on target.

However, Ireland absorbed that pressure and took control for the remainder of the first half. On 23 minutes, they were awarded a penalty when striker David Murphy was bundled over by visiting goalkeeper David Haladas Dombo but the stopper redeemed himself by diving low to his right to keep out Daniel Purdy's spot-kick.

A minute after Ireland had an appeal for another penalty turned down as Sutherland went to ground, the midfielder fired the Irish ahead on 35 minutes.

Purdy was upended by Ferenc Toth in a central position on the edge of the area and Sutherland stepped up to curl the free-kick over the wall into the top corner past the despairing dive of Dombo.

Ireland manager Sean McCaffrey made two changes at the break, bringing on Neil Yadolahi and Kevin Knight for Michael Barker and George Smith.

Burnley full-back Yadolahi got himself in a spot of bother soon after his introduction when Patrik Vass dispossessed him on the left but the Hungarian captain was unable to match his darting run with the finish and his shot drifted past the far post.

Ireland continued to live dangerously and might have been punished for a poor clearance to the edge of the box on 55 minutes yet Laszlo Erdelyi hurried his shot which angled wide of the upright.

Irish goalkeeper Sean McDermott was called into action to save at the back post from Serfozo just past the hour but Ireland added their second on 66 minutes.

Right-winger Daniel Purdy played a one-two with David Murphy and cut into the box before firing across Dombo and into the bottom right corner.

Late on, Ireland came agonisingly close to making it 3-0 as substitute Conor Smith played in Murphy but the Reading forward couldn't keep his shot down.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Marc Wilson extends Portsmouth stay

Ireland international Marc Wilson has committed his future to Portsmouth by signing a new three-and-a-half-year deal with the club.

The 22-year-old Co. Antrim born defender came through the ranks at Fratton Park and has established himself in the Pompey first-team this season.

The Premier League strugglers have been beset by financial problems this season, which have forced many players to move on, but Wilson insists he is happy on the South Coast.

"I've always wanted to stay at Pompey," he told the club's official website.

"This is my seventh year here and I really enjoy it.

"The fans are great and I couldn't imagine playing anywhere else."

Wilson spent two spells on loan at Bournemouth before making his first-team breakthrough for Pompey last season and the Irishman has made 22 appearances this term.

"I've really enjoyed playing first-team football this season and learning from some very experienced players," he added.

"There are a lot of good players here and even just training alongside them has helped me improve my game."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ireland drawn against Russians in Euro draw

Euro 2012 qualifying draw: Group B


Ireland manager Giovanni Trappatoni has called on his team to show the spirit of Paris when they begin the battle to qualify for Euro 2012.

Ireland were denied a place at this summer's World Cup when they lost a play-off to France, a defeat made controversial by Thierry Henry's handball in the build-up to the winner in Paris.

Trappatoni's side had matched the French in both legs with a Robbie Keane goal in the second match cancelling out Nicolas Anelka's goal in Dublin before Henry's misdemeanour set up the decisive stoppage-time effort from William Gallas.

And the Italian believes the same qualities will take the Irish to Euro 2012 after they were drawn with Russia, Slovakia, FYR Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra.

'We will start with the same mentality we had three months ago against France,' Trappatoni told Sky Sports News.

'If we begin with the same mentality, we have the possibility to qualify.'

Russia, top seeds in the draw, did not qualify for the World Cup either having suffered a surprise defeat to Slovenia, but Slovakia did.

And Trappatoni admitted the Slovakians could be as big a threat as Guus Hiddink's team.

'I think all the groups for me are about equal,' said Trappatoni. 'It's a tough group but other groups are also tough.

'Russia will be difficult and Slovakia. Slovakia are a technically good team and they are a team with a very tough mentality.'

Unlike the Russians, Slovakia will travel to South Africa this summer, having topped their group ahead of Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland.

And there will be worries about a trip to Macedonia where Mick McCarthy's team came unstuck in 1999, a last-gasp equaliser from Goran Stavreski denying them a place at Euro 2000.

They remain testing opponents on their own patch. Scotland recently came a cropper in Skopje while Norway dropped points and Holland only left with a 2-1 win.

Armenia and Andorra ought to prove less troublesome in a campaign which will start in September.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Keane moves to Celtic

Celtic are on the brink of signing Spurs and Ireland striker Robbie Keane on loan until the end of the season.

The Glasgow club are in talks with the Ireland international and hope to conclude the deal before Monday's midnight transfer deadline.

The 29-year-old has been consistently linked with a move to the club he is known to have supported as a boy.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said: "He needs to be playing and to go to Celtic is a dream come true for him."

Keane, a lifelong Celtic fan, has made 25 appearances for Spurs this season but has recently been confined to the substitutes' bench.

"He is a Celtic man and it looks like it probably will happen," Redknapp said of Celtic's move for the Ireland international team's captain and all-time top scorer with 41 goals in almost 100 games.

"It's a good move. Robbie needs to play.

"He's too good a player not to be starting here regularly. He wants to play all the time.

"It's been difficult to guarantee Robbie a starting place at the moment.

"He's not a happy man when he's not playing regularly, but he loves his football; he's a great trainer, a great man about the place."

Keane signed for Spurs in 2002, making almost 200 appearances and scoring 80 goals, before joining Liverpool for around £20m in July 2008.

However, he went on to make only 15 appearances for the Anfield side and rejoined Spurs in February 2009 for £12m, taking his cumulative transfer fees to more than £70m.

Best signs for Newcastle

Newcastle have completed the deadline-day signing of Ireland striker Leon Best from Coventry for an undisclosed fee.

The 23-year-old has put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half year contract and will go straight into the squad to face Cardiff at St James' Park on Friday.

The Ireland international has been handed the number 20 shirt.

Best's contract at Coventry was due to expire in the summer and, even though a fee would have been due as he is under 24, the Sky Blues have cashed in now.

Newcastle boss Chris Hughton was keen to bring in a new striker before the close of the transfer window.

Best is expected to go straight into the Newcastle squad for this Friday's crucial game with Cardiff.