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10 years on from his Ireland debut, Doyle returns to New Jersey in search of that elusive second cap

The Cork native is one of just two goalkeepers to travel with Martin O’Neill’s squad for the friendly against Mexico.

Doyle chats to the media in Whippany, New Jersey.
Doyle chats to the media in Whippany, New Jersey.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Joe Callaghan reports from New York City

A NEW SEASON began with him moving clubs for the grand sum of £1 could end with something a whole lot more valuable for Colin Doyle.

While breaking into international football is rightly seen as the pinnacle for players the world over, never making it past that first taste can be a chastening experience. ‘One-cap wonder’ is a branding that’s hard to cover over. Just ask Joe Lapira the next time you see the now medical supplies salesman.

Doyle made his international debut that same fateful day in 2007 when Lapira, then a collegiate amateur with flowing mythological red locks, etched his name into Irish footballing lore. The 1-1 draw with Ecuador at Giants Stadium is one of a few days of infamy during the Steve Staunton era. But a decade on, it still means the world to Doyle.

“It’s been a long time since I got my first cap, it’s ten years now,” said the Bradford City stopper.

“It was an honour playing for your country and doing it [in 2007] meant a lot. It was brilliant but it’s a long time ago now. It was obviously disappointing not to get any more and if I can now, then it will be fantastic.”

Given that one-time Birmingham City team-mate Darren Randolph is in need of game time after ending the season on West Ham’s bench, it’s likely Doyle will have to wait a little longer before cap number two comes along — perhaps as a substitute here in tonight’s friendly with Mexico or perhaps against Uruguay back in Dublin on Sunday.

Colin Doyle Doyle lining out for Ireland in 2007. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

While Doyle never altogether gave up hope, the Bradford City keeper — who joined the Bantams after they activated a nominal clause in his Blackpool contract last season — there were doubts.

“To be honest, [I didn’t think I’d get back in] while I wasn’t playing at Birmingham. I was there for a long time where I was a number two and behind Darren Randolph at the time,” said the 31-year-old.

“He was involved with Ireland and I knew that unless I moved away and started playing, then I did not think that I would [ever get back in]. I moved to Bradford this year, we started well and I got the call-up. I’m still in, It’s pleasing and it’s what I want. Hopefully I will stay.”

It’s been particularly easy for Doyle to slot back into this new-look squad given how many of his follow countymen have been assembled by O’Neill and Roy Keane. John Egan, Conor Hourihane, Kevin Long and Alan Browne are all Stateside.

It’s grown, what is it at the moment, five?” smiled Doyle. “And [David] Meyler is obviously injured which is six so I think Roy is steadily starting to get his own way. In training we might have to have an 11 vs 11 — Cork vs the rest of Ireland.”

As well as scratching that 10-year itch, this trip has provided a welcome end-of-season distraction for Doyle who otherwise would have headed off into the summer on the sourest of notes.

Bradford City v Millwall - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Final - Wembley Stadium Bradford lost out to Millwall at Wembley. Source: Mike Egerton

Bradford’s campaign had confounded many doubters as Stuart McCall’s side made it all the way to a Wembley play-off with Millwall, just 90 minutes from a return to Championship football.

It wasn’t to be as a dispute late winner secured a 1-0 victory for the Lions. At the final whistle, Doyle, three times a loanee at the New Den, had to hear it from the hundreds of Millwall fans who streamed on to the pitch.

“It was hard to get over, especially as we had a good season,” said Doyle who put in the most hectic season of his career in terms of games played. “We probably drew too many games. But we got to Wembley which gave us a 50-50 chance of winning. We dominated the first half and it was disappointing to lose in the end.

“I was down [the Millwall fans’] end. I was sitting on the ground and I saw one or two coming on to the pitch. Then, all of a sudden, there were hundreds of them.

‘They were saying the usual things, trying to get a reaction from you. I’m sure that if you did something then you’d get a lengthy ban.”

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Joe Callaghan

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