McCarthy defends his decision not to give Doherty game time against Gibraltar

Manager insists team captain Seamus Coleman remains his first-choice right back

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Edwin Andepu, left, and Prince Amechi from Cork Schoolboys League prior to their opening game of the SFAI Kennedy Cup at the FAI National Football Exhibition at UL Sports Arena, University of Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Edwin Andepu, left, and Prince Amechi from Cork Schoolboys League prior to their opening game of the SFAI Kennedy Cup at the FAI National Football Exhibition at UL Sports Arena, University of Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

 

Mick McCarthy has dismissed as “ridiculous” a suggestion that he should have given Matt Doherty some game time against Gibraltar on Monday night despite what he saw as the Dubliner’s failure to impress in the first game between the two sides when he started in front of Seamus Coleman on the right hand side of Ireland midfield.

“That really is a ridiculous assessment of it,” said the Ireland manager at the launch of the Euro 2020 National Football Exhibition at the University of Limerick Sports Campus. “I think Matt is a fabulous right back but unfortunately for him, I think Seamus is a better one.

“And the other thing about Seamus is, he’s a fabulous personality and the captain of the team. So it’s just difficult, you know. But at this moment in time why would I leave Seamus out?”

McCarthy made the point that Callum Robinson had been widely hailed as the best Irish player on the pitch in the 2-0 win and yet he might not have been able to start if space had had to be found for Doherty in the starting line-up.

“Why not talk about him instead of putting Matt Doherty in that position?” he asked. “Callum Robinson is an attacker. Matt isn’t an attacker, he’s a right wing back and he is a brilliant right wing back for Wolves but unfortunately sometimes, the manager just thinks that there is somebody who is better in that position.

“I can’t say anything other than that or give you any other reasons,” he continued. “I really love Matt Doherty. I signed him at Wolves, he’s had a great career. But you know sometimes I’m telling players that and it’s hard: ‘You’re not playing today.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Do you know what? Because that’s my preference.’ That’s what it is.”

Robinson, he said, has done exceptionally well for him an has the potential to improve on what he has produced in an Ireland shirt to date.

“He’s a very talented player,” he said. “He’s a great lad too, he’s got a great personality. He’s played his way into my reckoning, I know he can play that position [on the right of the attack]. He can play on the other side as well. I think his left side is actually his favourite because his right foot is stronger. But he bent one around the far post with his left foot and put in a couple of great crosses with his right foot. I could see why there’d Premier League interest.

Very quick

“He’s had a bad injury but he’s certainly very quick, he can be very direct, he’s got a goal in him. He’s got two very good feet and I think there’s improvement in him, he can get better.”

McCarthy said he has “no idea” what it will take in terms of points in the second half of the campaign to secure a top two finish but he is, he says, hopeful, that his side can build on what they have done so far.

Asked, however, whether he would be open to reconsidering his current contractual arrangement with the FAI, under which he is due to depart at the end of next summer in order to make way for Stephen Kenny, he said that the question simply should not arise.

“I haven’t given it any thought,” he said. “I’ve got four more games to try and qualify for Euro 2020 and I’m hoping that that’s going to be the case but if we get there and we do well and if that’s my last of it, I would be delighted, I’m cool. That’s my agreement at the moment, yeah.

“No, I’m not looking to do that. That’s completely unfair. Stephen’s been doing great with the under-21s, they are playing Brazil in the semi-final tomorrow and to be asking me that question when there’s an agreement in place that it’s going to happen, that’s not really completely nice, I don’t think.”

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