SHOULD SHAY BE ON THE PLANE TO FRANCE, HARPS PROVE A POINT – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY

first_imgSHOULD SHAY BE GOING TO THE EUROS?To be brutally frank, I’m surprised that Shay Given has got the green light for the Ireland squad for France. I know his experience at this level can be invaluable but his lack of game time this season is worrying and while he couldn’t be faulted for either of Belarus’s two goals in the friendly at Turner’s Cross last night – and did pull off a couple of decent stops – he surely cannot be at his sharpest should he be called upon in any of Ireland’s group games – or beyond.The Lifford man had originally hung up his well used gloves back in August 2012 but six months later indicated his availability again – the lure of international football and representing his country proving too strong a motivation to palm away. And represent his country he has done with more than distinction. And now here he is, 134 caps on, and firmly back in the green fold following Martin O’Neill’s decision to include him in his squad for Euro 2016.Don’t get me wrong, He can bring something to the party but I’m left wondering if he has somehow gatecrashed it at the expense of David Forde.The latter began the current campaign between the posts and hardly put a foot, or hand, wrong in those games he featured in including an heroic performance in Germany in the 1-1 draw.The big Galwegian came on in place of Given in Cork last night but it appeared to be a mere thank-you gesture on the part of the management team for his contribution to the cause rather than an indication that he had made the cut. A solid a ‘keeper as Ireland have in their ranks and, judging by his reaction after being told he was staying at home when he apparently still found the heart to sign countless autographs and pose for photos in Cork for fans, a solid being as well.Darren Randolph fully merits his place in the trio of travelling netminders having played a significant part in West Ham United’s impressive season in the Premiership just ended. And the cause for Kieran Westwood was also helped by his displays in Sheffield Wednesday’s push for promotion from the Championship that only saw them lose out to Hull City in the Wembley play-off final over the weekend.“Buzzing to be in the Ireland squad for Euro 2016,” Given tweeted shortly after the announcement.And this county will no doubt buzz with him now that he is getting another day in the sun.  But I’m just wondering if that sun might have set some time ago for the man who last night became the Republic of Ireland’s longest-serving player having broken the record of 19 years and 202 days held by Johnny Giles.A POINT TO PROVE AND HARPS PROVE IT A rot stopper and no mistake. And even a goal to boot. A decent return for Finn Harps at Tallaght on Sunday even if it did result in Bohemians leap-frogging over them on goal difference with their 5-1 dismantling of St. Patrick’s Athletic.On the plus side again was the defeat for the three teams below Harps in the Premier League table, two of them, Longford Town and Bray Wanderers, now both seven points behind their Donegal rivals.Ah, the old Sunday afternoon full fixture list again. Remember them? The Sunday dinner still making its way southwards as we headed to Finn Park at a time when floodlights in the League of Ireland were still a twinkle in the mind’s eye stage and we required natural daylight hours to get us through the ninety minutes. Interesting to see if attendances were up, down or remained the average same as a result of the temporary switch to facilitate the international at the Aviva Stadium on FridaynightWhatever, it brought a bit of light into Harps season after a couple of weeks of darkness and despair. Dave Scully took his equalizing goal well though the Hoops of Tallaght did squander a number of presentable opportunities even when they went a man down following the dismissal of Gary McCabe in the second half. And now the latest score from the studio of R.T.E.’s ‘Soccer Republic’. For the fifth week in succession, the panellists – on this occasion Trevor Croly and Stewart Byrne – failed completely to analyse any part of a Finn Harps performance. Needless to say, opponents Shamrock Rovers, were given in-depth dissection of their display but as far as Harps were concerned, it was limited to conceding that they had secured a “vital point” – something which those of us not getting paid by R.T.E. could have summarised.As I was watching on Monday night, I suddenly realised just why the Soccer Republicans don’t engage in any form of Harps analysis. It’s simply because they just don’t have a clue who pulls on the blue and white week in and week out – mainly because, apart, perhaps from Scully and Adam Hanlon – none of the current Finn Park squad would have mingled in the Dublin soccer circles.If you catch Messrs. Croly or Byrne, or even presenter, Peter Collins, on the hop – and I defy you to do it if you ever run into them in Copper Face Jacks or wherever – and enquired of them who exactly is Ciaran Coll or Damian McNulty or Keith Cowan or Packie Mailey they’d probably ask you in return what number did they reach in the charts.There is, of course, the old reliable, Kevin McHugh, for those analysts within The Pale who might some day be forced to name a member of the Finn Harps squad but the veteran striker apart, ignorance of all things Harps – apart from the fact that’s a long, long way to Donegal – would appear to be alive and well and currently residing among the footballing experts at Montrose.Next week, it’s the turn of Sligo Rovers to get the official rundown on ‘Soccer Republic’ following their game with Harps this Friday night.Get along and give some much needed backing, both verbally and financially, as the break approaches for the Euros and Harps are left struggling to find any – euros that is.FAREWELL DAVYIn the conversations and greeting exchanges that will oil the wheels during this year’s Joule Donegal International Rally in a couple of weekends from now, his name will inevitably feature. And for those rally participants and followers who will travel to the county for the event, there’ll be a sense of shock that he’s now gone from us – and them – and has taken up position in that great service station in the sky.Due to the illness that has been mark of his life for the past seven or so years, Davy Wasson may not have been a feature of recent rally events but his spirit undoubtedly was. And what a spirit.One of the great Letterkenny characters, his passing last week brought an untimely end to a life that was devoted to family and motor machinery.At his funeral service in Trinity Presbyterian Church on Letterkenny’s Main Street on Saturday, Rev. Tommy Bruce spoke of Davy’s days as an expert mechanic and his initial involvement in stock-car racing with his good friend, Jim Johnston from Trentagh.The Donegal Rally was an obvious follow-on for a man whose engine kept ticking over with plenty of banter between the stages. Davy both drove in the event and acted in an official capacity with the Donegal Motor Club – in the two capacities he gave whole-hearted commitment. And invariably that impish smile would light up his features as he rallied forth with one of his trademark quips.Sincerest sympathy to Margaret and the family from this column. Both you and Donegal sport have lost a great one.MORE CUP JOY FOR COCKHILL; MORE AGONY FOR ROVERSThe treble for Cockhill Celtic and a triple bogey for Letterkenny Rovers. Well, perhaps not quite a bogey seeing as this side reached the F.A.I. Intermediate Cup Final for the first time in their history and went within the width of a crossbar to knocking League of Ireland side, Athlone Town, out of the F.A.I. Senior Cup.Cockhill’s deserving win over the Rovers at Bonagee in the Donegal News Cup Final on Sunday evening capped a season of systematic success for Gavin Cullen’s troops. Sitting alongside their latest piece of silverware in the trophy cabinet at the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Ground is the Ulster Senior League crown and the Knockalla Caravans Cup – some return from a season of rich promise and richer reward.True, they were up against a Rovers side feeling the last few weeks catching up on them but nevertheless this was another impressive performance from the Inishowen team. That brace of first half goals from former Finn Harps striker, Garbhan Friel, didn’t just prove the difference between the sides – it emphasised it on an evening when the Letterkenny side never really got to grips with the game or the occasion.Even the arrival of one of the League of Ireland and the Irish League’s outstanding midfielders from a generation gone by, Anthony Gorman, into the fray with a quarter of an hour to go couldn’t propel Rovers into comeback mode and had they taken the other chances that came their way, the Celts could have inflicted a defeat of Crumlin United proportions on the local side.Meanwhile, congratulations to Milford United who were worthy winners of the Brian McCormack Cup courtesy of a 3-0 win over another Celtic, Castlefin, at Ballyare on Sunday.SKY DROPS IN ON TRIGGERJason McAteer in action for Ireland.The story goes – and it was straight from the horse’s mouth at last week’s Finn Harps and McGettigans’ evening hosted in Letterkenny’s Clanree Hotel  – that on the day back in 2009 John Barnes and his assistant Jason ‘Trigger’ McAteer were sacked by Tranmere Rovers, the pair opted to attempt to slip away as quietly as they could from Prenton Park.So there they were trying to load Barnes’ bicycle into the back of their car and enduring all sorts of difficulties in the process. Barnes had, apparently, wanted to ride away into the sunset but ‘Trigger’ advised that it would only result on a glut of tabloid headlines along the lines of ‘On Your Bike’.McAteer was struggling to get the bike into the back of the vehicle when his mobile phone rang. “You should try and get the wheels in first,” his friend on the other end advised.“Where are you? Are you nearby?,” ‘Trigger’ demanded looking round for a sight of his pal.“No, I’m watching you on SKY Sports trying to get that bicycle into the boot,” the friend responded.The departing Tranmere Two might have been better off with the ‘On Your Bike’ headlines.KERRLESS COMMENTBrian Kerr former Republic Of Ireland ManagerIf there was one criticism of Jason McAteer’s highly entertaining evening of anecdotes, it probably came in his “tribute” to former Ireland manager, Brian Kerr.“He didn’t have a clue what he was doing,” McAteer highlighted Kerr’s reign from January 2003 to October 2005.I always thought there was a bit of professional snobbery among some, at least, of the Irish squad at the time when the Dubliner was appointed.  He had won the League of Ireland title with St. Patrick’s Athletic and guided Irish under-age teams to international success including a bronze medal at the 1997 World Youth Championships and before going on to help both the under-16 and under-18 teams to glory at the European Championships.But there was invariably this belief that because he hadn’t managed at the top level in England, he wasn’t good enough for the senior Irish post.True, Kerr didn’t manage to secure respective qualification in either the European Championship (but it shouldn’t be forgotten the team were bottom of the group table prior to his arrival after a couple of defeats) or World Cup campaigns but his record at the end of his tenure read: 33 games played; 18 wins; 11 draws; and 4 losses.Far from the worst in Irish footballing history. And then along came Steve Staunton to take on the job.And it was significantly noticeable that ‘Trigger’ completely glossed over the latter’s managerial stint.SHOWPIECESTwo Irish teams play in Edinburgh (great game, Pro12 League Final, and no shame about the result); two Spanish teams play in Milan, dismal game, Champions League Final, and just a shame either of them had to win it; and an American performs at Croke Park (Bruce S. occupying full forward and playing for well over the seventy minute mark normally allotted for this venue).OPEN BIDSo Ballyliffen Golf Club has put in a bid to stage the Irish Open?  When all of us know, given the prestigious reputation of the links course, it should have been the Irish Open bidding for Ballyliffen.SHOULD SHAY BE ON THE PLANE TO FRANCE, HARPS PROVE A POINT – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: June 1st, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:finn harpsmcateerShay GivenWalshy on Wednesdaylast_img read more