Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Northern born players committed to Ireland's cause

Despite the recent bold pronouncements by new NI boss Michael O’Neill regarding his intention to stop players from the North opting to play for Ireland rather than his IFA team, it would seem, going by player statements in the past week, that his misguided mission is likely to continue falling on deaf-ears with players and supporters alike.

Last Week Derry born Sunderland wonder-winger James McClean again reiterated his intention to seek selection to Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland squad. "I have declared myself for the Republic and that's where I see my international future. If I don't get called up, then I'll live with that but I have confidence in my own ability that I will get a call-up at some stage with the Republic of Ireland”.

"I can only imagine what it would be like to play for Ireland at a tournament like that. I remember the last time they were at a finals, in 2002, everyone in Derry was watching the team then, and for me to make the squad would be unbelievable”.

Today Marc Wilson, the Stoke City midfielder from Aghagallon in County Antrim said on the Stoke website "I have always seen myself as a Republic of Ireland player. I supported them when I was growing up and if I have to continue to bide my time and wait for my chance to come along, I am happy to do that."

Wilson has represented Ireland at u19, u21 and senior level, although he has yet to play in a competitive senior international for Trapattoni.

He added: "I would love to play for them, though, one day and I have made that clear before a number of times. Hopefully, my time will come in the future. I would love to try to be part of the squad for the European finals, but if that doesn't happen, then I will keep working hard here at Stoke and try to earn a spot in the Ireland team."

"I made the decision a few years ago (to represent Ireland) without having my head turned by anybody, and I am sticking by that. It is something I am comfortable with."

And following on from McClean & Wilson’s statements of commitment to the Irish cause, Shane Duffy the Derry born Ireland U21 international has also reiterated his desire to one day make the grade for Trap’s senior squad.

Speaking in the Irish Mail on Sunday last weekend Duffy said “ When I was a young lad growing up all I ever wanted to do was play for Ireland, nothing else. My heroes were Paul McGrath, Roy Keane and Robbie Keane. Nobody from Ireland ever got in touch with me when I was younger. I was part of the NI squad, but when Liam Brady phoned me up to ask me to play for Ireland there was never a chance I was going to say no”

Perhaps the time is now right for Michael O’Neill and the IFA to concentrate on players who feel some affiliation or bond to Northern Ireland, rather than continually attempting to disrupt the international ambitions of Irish players born in the North, who are simply following their childhood dream of pulling on an Ireland shirt and representing their nation at the Aviva Stadium.