Shane Duffy and Eunan O’Kane to fly to US despite crash

Kevin Long enjoying Ireland set up despite missing brother’s wedding

Eunan O’Kane will travel with the Republic of Ireland squad to the US despite being involved in a traffic incident.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Eunan O’Kane will travel with the Republic of Ireland squad to the US despite being involved in a traffic incident. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Shane Duffy and Eunan O’Kane are expected to train Monday morning and travel to America in the afternoon despite an incident on Sunday that resulted in the car they were driving being too badly damaged for the pair to complete their journey from Derry to Dublin in it.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, which is understood to have happened north of the border, and neither player is said to have required any attention after eventually reaching the team hotel.

The pair had been spending the weekend back at home with family having participated in last week’s three-day training session at Fota Island. They are set to be back out on the training pitch in Abbotstown Monday morning with the rest of the 19-man travelling party confirmed by manager Martin O’Neill on Sunday. The group includes all of the players who were in Cork bar West Ham teenager Declan Rice while Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle and James McClean will also travel.

The wedding is in Killarney. I don’t mind missing it; I don’t think he’ll mind either. He was happy that I got called up for my country.

With the rest of the senior players due to report in for the Uruguay game, the likes of Burnley’s Kevin Long and Preston’s Alan Browne are in with a strong shout of making their senior international debuts against Mexico in the early hours of Friday morning Irish time.

“It would be brilliant, every player wants to play for his country,” acknowledges Long. “If I get that opportunity I would be delighted.”

Serious injuries

Long is missing his brother’s wedding to go on the trip but he says that his brother Daniel is better placed than most to appreciate the excuse. “He’s got an amateur cap,” says the 26 year-old defender, “and he’s always held that against me so if I get a cap for the proper team I think I can shove that on him. He’s not playing at the moment, he was with Avondale; a centre-forward. The wedding is in Killarney. I don’t mind missing it; I don’t think he’ll mind either. He was happy that I got called up for my country.”

The trip rounds off a remarkable few weeks for the Cork man who finally made his Premier League debut after having overcome a couple of serious injuries last year and is revelling in being involved in the senior international set up.

“It has been a little bit of a shock,” he admits. “I haven’t been playing a lot of games of late so to finish off the season, get a few games in the Premier League and get a call up for your country, it’s massive. I’m absolutely delighted; my family are delighted, my friends are delighted for me. It’s brilliant.

Kevin Long: The trip to the US rounds off a remarkable few weeks for the Cork man who finally made his Premier League debut. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Kevin Long: The trip to the US rounds off a remarkable few weeks for the Cork man who finally made his Premier League debut in May. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

“I felt ready, though. I felt I’ve kept in good shape all season. I’ve been training hard and waiting for opportunities; I’ve just had to be patient and when a chance came along I felt ready, I just felt excited to play. It can be frustrating, I’m not gonna lie. It’s extremely frustrating if you’re not playing. Every footballer wants to play but if you’re not, you have to keep ready physically and mentally in case that chance comes and thankfully it did.

No complaints

“When I had my injury it was a bad piece of luck . . . I went on loan, I came back, I got my match fitness back up and stuff like that. I’ve been around the Burnley team for the last year and injury free; it’s just the lads ahead of me (Michael Keane and Ben Mee) have been doing really well so I couldn’t really complain to be honest. It’s one of those, that maybe if the players were playing badly I’d knock on the manager’s door but I couldn’t really have any complaints.”

It is, he appreciates, all a long way from his initial breakthrough at Cork City where, he says, making the first team was a dream come true but one that coincided with the club being desperate to sell players in order to raise the money required for wages with the young defender quickly the focus of attention.

“I do remember that,” he says. “I think Stevie O’Donnell was screaming at me in the showers . . . would I ever leave,” he adds with a laugh. “Everything happened so fast for me at the time. I just broke into the Cork City team and literally within a few months I was over in England and had signed for a Premier League club but I had great times there, great memories.”

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