Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trapattoni turned down Juventus

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed he turned down a move to Juventus earlier this year.

The 71-year-old claims he was sounded out about replacing Ciro Ferrara, who was sacked at the end of January after a poor run of results, before the Turin club appointed Alberto Zaccheroni until the end of the season.

'With a heavy heart I turned it down because it was impossible for me to be involved in a national team and club football,' Trapattoni told Italian television station Italia 1.

'It would not have been a serious option.'

Trapattoni, who guided Juve for a total of 13 years over two spells, became Ireland manager in 2008.

Ireland, who finished runners-up to Italy in their World Cup qualifying group, missed out on a place in South Africa in a play-off against France last November.

Trapattoni is under contract with Ireland until the 2012 European Championships.

19 man squad named for Poland U19 friendlies

Sean McCaffrey yesterday named a 19 man squad to face Poland in a double header friendly on Tuesday April 6 and Thursday April 8. The fixtures will take place in Tolka Park with both matches kicking off at 7.30pm.

The 19 players were chosen from a pool of 30 players who attended a training camp at Bisham Abbey in England in February this year. The group spent five days at the purpose-built training facility to work on tactics and formations and these friendlies will focus the minds of the players before heading off to the Ukraine.

The squad includes players that have risen through the international ranks from Under 17's such as Ger Hanley, Johnny Dunleavy, Richie Towell, Gavin Gunning, Aaron Doran and Conor Hourihane while some will be making their international debuts: Ian McLoughlin, Cian Bolger, Thomas McBride, Sean Kinsella and Charlie Collins.

Manager Sean McCaffrey said, "We will be using these friendlies to bed down how we are going to play in the elites. Poland are a good side, they are also competing in the elite phase of the European championships so they will be looking for a competitive double header. We were able to get a lot of preparation work done in the training camp in Bisham Abbey so hopefully the players will use what they learnt against what will be tough opposition."

He added, "It is unfortunate that a number of players are not available for these games. Greg Cunningham and Andy Boyle are out due to club commitments while Robbie Brady has been ruled out with a thigh strain, Callum O'Connor is recovering from a collar bone injury and Gearoid Morrisey is also out due to injury."

Ireland Under 19 squad v Poland:

Ian McLoughlin - Ipswich Town
Ger Hanley - Mervue United

Johnny Dunleavy - Wolves
Richie Towell - Celtic
Shane McEleney - Derry City
Cian Bolger - Leicester City
Rob Kiernan - Kilmarnock
Gavin Gunning - Rotherham United
Shaun Timmins - Birmingham City

Aaron Doran - Blackburn Rovers
Jimmy Keohane - Wexford Youths
Thomas McBride - Derry City
Sean Kinsella - Plymouth Argyle
Conor Hourihane - Sunderland
Conor Henderson - Arsenal

Jamil Adam - Barnsley
Ronan Murray - Ipswich Town
Charlie Collins - MK Dons
Paddy McEleney - Derry City

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hamilton supports Gibson & Wilson's right to play for Ireland

Former Northern Ireland manager Brian Hamilton has openly supported the right of players born in the North of Ireland to choose their own international future. Speaking on RTE radio, Hamilton stated that while he would prefer players to play for Northern Ireland, he accepted that players had the right to play for Ireland and that their choice should be respected by the IFA.

Hamilton’s interview echoes those of present Ireland players like Shay Given who has supported the right of Darron Gibson and Marc Wilson to play for Ireland and also echeos the support of people and politicians the length and breadth of the island who accept that Irishmen have the right to represent Ireland, as is reflected in FIFA’s own rules.

The eligibility issue has again reared its head as the IFA continue their campaign to stop young players having the right to represent their country at international level. The IFA have recently brought the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, despite 3 previous rulings from FIFA stating that the existing situation of players born in the 6 counties being able to represent Trapattoni’s Ireland, remains.

Hamilton, who managed Northern Ireland for 5 years during the 1990’s said that he had respected the decisions of players to opt to play for Ireland during his time as a manager & that some players simply wanted to play for Ireland, rather than the North. Hamilton continued that it was their choice, a choice he fully accepted.

In what perhaps could be construed as a criticism of the Present boss of the North’s team, Nigel Worthington, Hamilton said that he only ever did interviews relating to sporting issues when he was manager and left the other issues to those who dealt with those matters. He stated that managers should only be concerned about the football and the players.

Worthington has been very vocal in his support for the IFA’s campaign to stop Irish players representing Ireland and has totally failed to grasp the concept that players like Gibson, Wilson etc.., like a large percentage of football supporters in the North have always supported and followed Ireland and it is totally natural to want to represent your national side, as has been talked about by County Antrim born international Marc Wilson.

Hamilton has also again voiced his support for the concept of an all Ireland football team and said it would be ‘something very special’ to have an all Ireland side in the future.

Hamilton is one of the many former northern Ireland players who have openly supported the formation of an all Ireland team. Both Martin O’Neill and Pat Jennings have spoken of their support for a single team on the island, former greats George Best and Derek Dougan spoke openly of their support and current Celtic caretaker boss Neil Lennon was abused by thousands of Northern Ireland fans at Windsor Park after a press interview in which he supported the formation of an all Ireland team.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ireland fixtures released for European qualifiers

Ireland will open their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with an away trip to Armenia on 3 September.

Giovanni Trapattoni's first competitive game at the new Lansdowne Road Stadium will be against Andorra, four days later on 7 September.

Commenting on the draw, Trapattoni said: 'I am happy with this draw and the early fixtures represent good opportunities for us and it is always good to finish at home.

'On balance, these fixtures are better than those we had in the previous World Cup qualification campaign.

'I also think the squad will have benefitted from the significant steps forward made against top sides like Bulgaria, Montenegro, Italy, France and Brazil.'

Friday, 3 September 2010: Armenia (a)
Tuesday, 7 September 2010: Andorra (h)
Friday, 8 October 2010: Russia (h)
Tuesday, 12 October 2010: Slovakia (a)
Saturday, 26 March 2011: Macedonia (h)
Saturday, 4 June 2011: Macedonia (a)
Friday, 2 September 2011: Slovakia (h)
Tuesday, 6 September 2011: Russia (a)
Friday, 7 October 2011: Andorra (a)
Tuesday, 11 October 2011: Armenia (h)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Doyle & McCarthy in demand

Premiership managers Mick McCarthy and Roberto Martinez have issued a stern hands off warning to Premier League rivals over their in-form Irish players Kevin Doyle and James McCarthy.

The Irish duo only moved to the English Premier League, for a combined fee of £7million, last summer when Doyle left Reading for Wolves while McCarthy quit SPL side Hamilton to join Wigan.

But their valuation on the transfer market has rocketed after a season which has seen Doyle and McCarthy score eight goals between them and impress many with their work rate and determination.

Arsenal and Liverpool have both been linked with teenager McCarthy, who made his Ireland debut against Brazil earlier this month, while Doyle has a long list of admirers due to his superb form for Wolves.

But Wolves boss McCarthy believes that Doyle will spurn any suitors if the Molineux club avoid relegation this season and insists that he does not want to sell the Wexford-born star.

After last nights 3-1 win over Burnley, McCarthy and Doyle are likely to remain in the top flight next season.

"He loves it where he is. It's what makes the world go around, if a bigger, better, richer club gets in his head like any other player. But let me say, no-one would turn his head.

"I hope he scores another five or six goals and he is brilliant, keeps us up and everyone wants him and then we have a problem to deal with. I'd like to have that problem," added McCarthy, who was delighted with Doyle's selfless display in last Saturday's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa and his goal and contribution to the defeat of Burnley on Tuesday evening.

"He has had another great performance. We knew what we were buying. He was our signature player. I knew what I was buying and he's been everything I thought and probably more."

Wigan are aware that Arsenal have been keeping a special eye on McCarthy this season and it seems that a summer move for the Glasgow native is inevitable, but boss Martinez wants to keep McCarthy, and highly-rated forward Victor Moses, at the club.
"Can Wigan keep them? You'll have to ask the chairman that but I think they want to play 60 games for Wigan and them move on to the next level, but they are not ready for that yet," said Martinez.

"Maybe because they are ready to play in the Premier League now at that young age shows they are mature, but I don't think they want to go anywhere else."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ireland u17's back in with a shout of qualification

Kevin Knight's superb second-half winner against Finland yesterday got Ireland's UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifying hopes back on course.

Two days after Ireland opened their elite group campaign by losing 3-0 by mini-groups hosts Greece, their win - coupled with draws in two other matches - has resurrected their prospects of reaching the finals in May to be hosted by Liechtenstein.

Sean McCaffrey's Ireland side go into Wednesday's final series of matches with a decent chance to finish top and claim the sole automatic berth in the finals.

They will need to beat Austria and hope that Greece are denied victory by Finland in the other game being played simultaneously.

Ireland's starting line-up showed five changes to the side which lost on Friday and one of the newcomers, Sean Murray, was a constant threat to Finland on the right wing in the first half.

On six minutes, he dribbled down the flank and picked out Daniel Purdy in the centre with a cross. Purdy looked poised to slot home but had his shot blocked by an outstretched leg of a Finnish defender.

Tim Vayrynen tested Ireland goalkeeper Sean McDermott with an effort shot on 11 minutes but it was Ireland who carried by far the greater threat up front.

Kevin Knight saw his 15th minute header kept out while Aiden O'Brien caused havoc in the Finland box after his raiding run was brought to an end by a last-gasp clearance.

Ireland captain Sean McGinty, meanwhile, showed great awareness as the break approached to foil the Finland strikeforce when an inviting free-kick from the right floated towards the back post.

The second half saw the Irish take a tighter grip on proceedings, with Shane Byrne and Frankie Sutherland pulling the strings in midfield and Knight having the better of his marker on the left wing.

Knight set up Purdy to shoot on 53 minutes but the close-range shot was parried by Ville Kauppinen in the Finland goal.

The goal deservedly came a minute later - Knight wriggling free in the box to execute a bicycle-kick volley beyond the helpless goalkeeper.

Ireland were well on top and carved out more openings through Knight and Frankie Sutherland but Kauppinen in the Finland goal was equal to both efforts.

Finland did press during the last ten minutes but the Irish defence, marshaled superbly by McGinty, held firm to seal a vital victory.

Ireland manager Sean McCaffrey gave his assessment of the display:

"The team performed much better today by showing energy, conviction and heart.

"After Friday's weak display against Greece, I am happy that the players showed what they can do.

"I thought we defended well and created good chances. We started confidently and closed down the Finns - especially in midfield - who worked very hard, and when the goal came, Kevin Knight's finish was fantastic.

"The Finns were strong and had some great chances, especially in the second half but I thought we dealt with them well.

"A lot of that was down to Sean McGinty. He was immense as captain today, with his drive and leadership an inspiration to the entire squad."

Match-winner Kevin Knight said: "This was a real boost after losing to Greece on Friday. Our chances have gone up a lot now even though Greece still have a slight advantage. We just have to win the next game and hope Greece drop points. I really needed the goal and the team needed it too."

Ireland: Sean McDermott (Arsenal); Michael Keane (Manchester United), Neil Yadolahi (Burnley), Sean McGinty (Manchester United), Carl McHugh (Reading); Sean Murray (Watford), Frankie Sutherland (QPR), Shane Byrne (Leicester City), Kevin Knight (Leicester City); Daniel Purdy (West Ham United), Aiden O'Brien (Millwall).
Subs: George Smith (Southend United) for Murray (63 mins), David Murphy (Reading) for O'Brien (69 mins), Michael Barker (Belvedere) for Purdy (78 mins).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ireland’s young running man – Bradley Garmston

Ireland u16 international Bradley Garmston certainly has the pedigree to be lightening fast on the left wing for Ireland and West Brom in the future. The Chorley born teenager has been rated as the second fastest 100 & 200m runner in the UK for his age and despite a promising sprinting career has decided to stick with football.

He recently signed a two year scholarship with West Brom having spent the previous two years with their youth teams and was a member of Albion's successful under-15s team who won the National Nike Cup beating Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Arsenal and eventually Everton in the final

Sprinting certainly runs in the family for young Garmston as his mother is former Commonwealth gold medal winner Sonia Lannaman who also competed at 100m & 200m during her highly successful sprinting career.

Sixteen year old Garmston has been a regular in John Morling’s Ireland u15 & u16 teams over the last year and moved up from u15 to u16 level last summer. He recently travelled with Ireland u16’s to take part in the Albufeira 4 Nations Under-16 tournament in Portugal, competing against teams from Italy, Portugal & the Netherlands.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No agreement on Ireland Euro qualifying dates

A meeting to arrange group B fixtures for Ireland's group in the forthcoming European Championship qualifers has ended without agreement in Moscow.

The FAI Cheif Executive, John Delaney, told RTÉ that Ireland, Russia and Slovakia did agree dates, but one of the other countries applied their veto.

As a result, Delaney confirmed that the draw will now be taken out of the hands of the countries involved and made by UEFA.

GROUP B: Andorra, Armenia, Macedonia, Ireland, Slovakia, Russia

Séamus Coleman on loan to Blackpool?

Blackpool are lining up a swoop for Everton and Ireland u21 defender Séamus Coleman ahead of Thursday's loan deadline.

Seasiders boss Ian Holloway is on the look out for a new defender as Stephen Crainey and Ian Evatt are struggling with knocks and he could turn his attentions to the Goodison Park starlet.

Donegal born Coleman has played in the Premier and Europa League for Everton this season as injuries have hit David Moyes squad but the 21-year-old is now looking for games as the team reaches full strength again.

Moyes is keen for him to get some competitive game time under his belt and a loan move to Blackpool could be on the cards.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Keane hat-trick but Mowbray unsure how long Robbie will stay

Celtic manager Tony Mowbray admits he does not know if Robbie Keane will remain at the club beyond the summer.

The on-loan Tottenham striker scored all three Celtic goals in the 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Kilmarnock today.

"That's not something that we get involved in," Mowbray told BBC Scotland following the quarter-final triumph.

"I'm just pleased that he's enjoying his football here and scoring a few goals. I'm delighted for him that he's got himself a hat-trick."

Keane has scored Celtic's last six goals and eight in total since his move north.

"It's a club he's supported all his life as a boy and now a man and for him to score a hat-trick, it's going to be pretty special for him of course," Mowbray said.

"And yet, like the rest of the team, he needs telling at half-time that the performance has got to be raised and he and everybody else did.

"What's important is though that he keeps contributing to the team as much as he does and working as hard for the team as he does and hopefully we can all benefit.

"Robbie Keane is a player that's been to Liverpool, Tottenham and Inter Milan. He's now at another one of the greatest clubs in the world and he's enjoying his football and yet financially the Scottish game is not in a position to match the English league or the Italian league.

"Robbie is a guy with not only responsibilities of love of football but responsibilities for his family as well and his future and for those decisions, when they come, I'm sure he'll make the one that's best for him and his family as well as his football career."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

McCarthy looks for Premiership survival

Ireland international James McCarthy is hoping Wigan can secure Premier League survival as quickly as possible.

The Latics edged four points clear of the drop zone on Monday with an impressive 1-0 victory over Liverpool.

Confidence is now soaring around the DW Stadium, with belief returned to a side that had begun to wobble at an important stage of the season.

Promising midfielder McCarthy played a starring role in the success over Rafa Benitez's Reds and the Ireland international midfielder is determined to do all he can to ensure he is still a top-flight performer next term.

"It would be some feat to stay up," the 19-year-old said.

"We want to do that as soon as possible so we can enjoy this even more.

"The gaffer (Roberto Martinez) had us in on Tuesday and told us Bolton on Saturday was an even bigger game for us.

"Liverpool was a bonus but we are playing better and have belief that we can stay up, which would be the highlight of my career."

McCarthy joined the Latics from Hamilton last summer and, having been eased into the frame by Martinez, feels he has now fully adjusted to life in the Premier League.

He added: "I'm really enjoying myself now. It was frustrating at the start, but this is what I've worked for since I was a kid.

"I've felt my touch get better and also my reading of the game. I've still got miles to go but this has been a great experience for me."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Shay Given backs Wilson & Duffy's decision to play for Ireland

Shay Given has backed the FAI's policy of recruiting players born in the North of Ireland who are willing to commit their international future to the Ireland team.

And the Donegal man, who revealed that he was eligible to play for Northern Ireland as his late mother was born in the six counties, says that players should be allowed to make up their own minds on their international futures without being forced into a decision by officials from the IFA.

Given has welcomed the arrival of players like Marc Wilson from Antrim and Shane Duffy from Derry on the scene for Ireland.

"I could have played for Northern Ireland as my mum was from Castlederg in Tyrone, so it's up to the players," says Given, who was born in Lifford, Co Donegal, less than a mile across the border from Stranbane in Tyrone.

"As far as I am aware, it's up to the players to choose who they want to play for and I think it's great they want to pick Ireland," added Given.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Wilson defends a players right to represent Ireland

Portsmouth and Ireland defender Marc Wilson has insisted players born in the North of Ireland should be allowed to decide whether they want to represent Ireland or the North at international level.

Wilson, named in the Ireland squad for Tuesday's friendly against Brazil, is from Aghagallon in County Antrim.

"I think you should have the choice," said Wilson. "I made it clear I wanted to play for the Republic”.

"It was always my dream to play for the Republic. I grew up supporting them."

"It should be down to the player to make that decision and that should be it."

Ireland take on Brazil, the favourites for this summer's World Cup at Arsenal's Emirates stadium on Tuesday night.

"It is tough competition in the Ireland squad but I am just happy to be here. Hopefully, I can progress further in the future.

"Words could not describe my feeling when I heard about the call-up,"
he added.

"Brazil are the best team in the world in my opinion. Their record speaks for itself. It is a great game to be involved in and anyone would be proud to be involved in it."

Tuesday's game at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium is the first of four for Ireland before they kick off their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, for which they have been drawn against Russia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra.