Friday, April 29, 2011

Ireland v England friendly international set for February 2012

According to news reports on Irish radio this morning the FAI have secured a glamour friendly game against England in February 2012. It was reported last December that the FAI were in talks with the English Football Association to secure a friendly international between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in June next year, however due to fixture congestion in June the game is being planned for late February.

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni reportedly spoke with his compatriot Fabio Capello, the England boss, about the possibility of a game between the two sides.

The game, if confirmed, will be the first senior international between the two countries since the Landsdowne Road game of 1995 - a game which was famously abandoned after 28 minutes when English fans rioted and ripped out seating after David Kelly had put Ireland ahead in the game.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shay Given fit for Macedonia qualifier

Shay Given will be fit to play for Ireland in June’s European Championship qualifier in Macedonia. Irish goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly confirmed in Dublin that Manchester City back up keeper Given will be fit in time for the club’s first FA Cup final since 1981.

The Donegal goal stopper missed the March win over Macedonia after undergoing surgery on another shoulder injury in February but is back in full training with his club.

"Shay sent a message this week to tell us that he is back in full training and doing very well," said Kelly at the annual Dublin Docklands Coaching for Kids festival.

"He is fighting fit once again and looking forward to getting back on the field with City and with Ireland.

"He is pushing the envelope and I will be very surprised if he’s not on the bench for City for the FA Cup final against Stoke and back forIreland in the games at the end of next month."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Doyle aiming to be fit for Ireland end of season Internationals

Ireland international striker Kevin Doyle has set his sights on playing for Ireland in their three internationals at the end of the season.

Doyle has basically ruled himself out of the remainder of Wolves' battle for Barclays Premier League survival after suffering a knee ligament injury when Ireland beat Macedonia in Dublin last month. He is however hoping to return for 'The Boys In Green' in late May, even though he admits his club boss Mick McCarthy may not be too happy.

Doyle told Sky Sports: "If I don't play for Wolves again this season, I don't suppose the manager will be too happy to see me get fit and disappear for my country. But I'm going to try to make it."

Ireland face Nigel Worthington's team and Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup on May 24 and 29 respectively and then tackle Macedonia away a few days later in a Euro 2012 qualifier on June 4.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coleman delighted with PFA young player nomination

Ireland international Seamus Coleman has been speaking about his delight at being shortlisted for the Premiership PFA Young Player of the Year award.

The Killybegs born player has flourished during the season for Everton and has become an integral part of David Moyes starting eleven.

His superb club form earned the former Sligo Rovers man promotion to the Ireland squad and he made his debut in the 3-0 victory over Wales at the Aviva Stadium in February.

The 22-year-old has been nominated alongside Gareth Bale, Jack Wilshere, Nani, Joe Hart, Samir Nasri and Javier Hernandez for the coveted end of season prize.

Speaking on the Everton website of his pride at being short-listed he said

"It is fantastic news, at the start of the season I would not have expected that and when you see the names on that shortlist, it is just a great achievement to be mentioned alongside them.

"At the start of the season I hoped things would go this well but if I am honest then I probably did not think they would.

"Sometimes I still have to pinch myself. Two years ago I was at Sligo and now and then I look around the changing room here and think ‘wow, this is really happening to me'.

"I certainly did not expect to play this many matches and also not as a right midfielder, but I have just tried to take it game by game and do my best."

He added: "There have been so many good young players this season it is hard to pick out individuals.

"Obviously Gareth Bale stands out and he will probably be in the running for the main award. Then there is Jack Wilshere who played against Barcelona and was one of the best players over the two legs. There are lots of contenders and too many to mention everyone.

"I am sure the other lads might think about winning it but for me just to be in the top seven is fantastic and an achievement in itself.

"Obviously the most important thing is the team doing well. But personal accolades are nice as well. They are what you want as it shows that you are doing well, but I would not be up for any award without the coaching staff here and my teammates.

"I think the first season you can maybe take people by surprise but to be consistent you have to do it every year and there are plenty of guys here I can learn from and I just want to keep getting better with Everton."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Long aiming for the Premier league

Ireland striker Shane Long is refusing to rule out a move to the Premier League - but he insists his burning ambition is to get there with Reading.

Long was again instrumental in Reading's 2-1 win over Preston this evening, providing the pass for Jimmy Kebe to put the Royals in front and being a constant menace in front of goal.

Tonight's win moves the Royals into sixth place in the Championship and they are now right in the play-off mix and looking to continue a strong charge towards Premiership promotion.

The 24-year-old Tipperary born striker scored both goals in last Saturday's 2-0 home win against Portsmouth to take his club tally to 22 for the season.

And with three further Ireland international goals to his name this campaign, Long continues to be linked with a string of top-flight clubs including Wolves and West Brom.

But the in-form Irish hitman says the prospect of leaving the Madejski Stadium has not even crossed his mind.

Long, who signed a new contract recently until summer 2012, declared: "I think I'm performing well in the Championship and obviously the next step is the Premier League. I want to test myself against the best players in the world.

"But that's a long way away and all I'm looking for now is the next three points for Reading."

However, Long was more cautious when asked whether he may be forced to move on for the sake of his career should Reading fail to secure promotion.

"That's a hard question to answer," admitted the former Cork City player. "Obviously I want to play at the highest level but all I want to do is concentrate on the next game for Reading and take things as they come. I'm enjoying my football here, I get on well with the lads and my sole ambition is to get the Premier League with Reading."

The victory over Preston has stretched Reading's unbeaten run to nine matches and Long believes that if that continues they could even snatch the second automatic promotion spot behind champions-elect QPR.

"I'm enjoying my football at the moment and the games and the goals are coming thick and fast so long may that continue," he said. "We're going the right way about things and all of a sudden second place doesn't look far away.

"We've set our expectations high and aim for that second position so wherever we finish will be a bonus."

Long's brace last Saturday meant he is the first Reading player to score 20 league goals or more in a season since former strike partners Jamie Cureton and Martin Butler both managed it 10 years ago.

And despite the growing interest around Long's future, McDermott appears unconcerned: "I am not thinking about losing Long or any other players next season," he argued. "All we can do is train and worry about our next game.

"I think Shane has been on fire since the start of the season. He was playing well but not scoring whereas now he is getting the goals as well".

Monday, April 4, 2011

Duffy impresses despite Burnley defeat

Ireland U21 international Shane Duffy is determined to shake off the disappointment of defeat on his Burnley debut to push for the play-offs.

The 19-year-old Everton centre back made his league debut against Ipswich after signing on an initial 28-day loan.

And despite impressing, Duffy took no pleasure from the day, after seeing his side go down 2-1.

The Derry born Irishman feels that a top six place is still within Burnley’s reach however, although they have to start winning games as soon as possible.

A third defeat in four leaves them three points adrift of Reading in sixth, with eight games to play, and Duffy said: “We have to put this behind us.

“We know there aren’t that many games left.

“We’ve got a lot coming up now so hopefully we’ll get a few wins under our belt and we’re straight back in there.

“We’ve got to start winning our own games first and then we can focus on other teams.

“We’ve got to move on and try to win the next game.”

Duffy felt, despite a below-par team performance, Burnley didn’t deserve to lose to the Tractor Boys, who took a two-goal lead through first half goals from skipper David Norris and 18-year-old Connor Wickham, before Jay Rodriguez pulled one back with his 13th goal of the season 20 minutes from time: “We went through a little bad spell in the first half, which at the end of the day cost us the game.

“But I thought we’d started all right and didn’t deserve to lose.

“I thought we’d done enough to get something from it.

“We were on top for the whole second half, but for 15 to 20 minutes in the first half we just weren’t good enough and they punished us.

“I thought we were a better team than them but they took their chances, and Connor Wickham’s a handful.

“We’re disappointed we lost the game when we shouldn’t have.”

Duffy had made two Europa League appearances for Everton before Saturday’s league debut, and he was happy with how he fared: “It took me a bit of time to get into it, but I thought overall I did okay and hopefully I’ve done enough to progress.

“It was a great experience for me but at the end of the day it was all about the result and we didn’t get it.

“I’m delighted to be playing, but I’d rather have the three points.”

Selected ahead of the likes of Clarke Carlisle, Michael Duff and David Edgar, Duffy admitted it was a confidence boost to be selected by boss Eddie Howe: “I was delighted to get the nod to start.

“I’d got good centre halves ahead of me.

“It’s great confidence that the manager has in me.

“I’m just proud to play for Burnley and hopefully I can progress.”

His manager was also suitably impressed: “I thought Shane attacked the ball very well in the air.

“You can see that his game is one where he’ll give absolutely everything to the cause, so I was pleased with him.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

Trapattoni considering career in Irish politics

Ireland international Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed he is keen to enter the ‘cut and thrust’ of Irish politics should he be unsuccessful in winning an extension to his current Ireland contract, which ends when the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign finishes later this year.

Trapattoni revealed in a late night viewer phone-in on Italian sports station Rai Sport 2, that a chance meeting with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin (Pictured above) convinced him of the possibility of ending his working career sitting on the benches in Dáil Éireann, rather than in the Irish dugout.

Speaking last night Trapattoni said "I met Micheál during a charity event in Dublin recently and he explained that it would be a nice little earner for me, and also that there were plenty of hidden little extras in the job, if you knew the right people".

"Who knows, perhaps I could be the Silvio Berlusconi of Irish politics in the near future, we will just have to wait and see".

The FAI will no doubt be surprised at Trapattoni’s revelations about his political ambitions, as he yesterday expressed a desire to remain with the Ireland international set-up for the next World Cup qualifying campaign.