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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019
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'It's not a decision I can make, I just have to keep scoring'

Cillian Sheridan speaks to The42 about his hopes of playing for Ireland again and life in Cyprus.

Cillian Sheridan has won three caps for Ireland but hasn't featured for the national side since 2010.
Cillian Sheridan has won three caps for Ireland but hasn't featured for the national side since 2010.
Image: Cathal Noonan

“IF WE GET a bad result, the fans will go to the training ground and let us know about it. Before we had a group of 20 or 30 fans storm on to the training pitch and address us.”

Intense pressure to perform and intimidation from your own supporters may not be something Irish football fans would associate with Cypriot football, but it’s one aspect Cillian Sheridan has had to adapt to on the holiday island.

“The fans show a lot of passion over here. In the big games they can have a lot of influence and if we get a bad result, they make sure we know,” Sheridan says.

Omonia are the second club Sheridan has played for in Cyprus, having left APOEL in the summer, and he admits he was surprised with the quality of football in the country.

“I think the standard of football in Cyprus is a bit underrated. The top five or six teams are of a good standard but the pace is a bit slower here. You have players at the end of their careers – they may not be big names but they have a lot of experience of playing across Europe.”

Sheridan 3 Cillian Sheridan has scored 15 league goals in Cyprus this season.

The 27-year-old forward is enjoying his most prolific season in front of goal but says that he would swap his goals for the team to have more success on the pitch.

Just like the Scottish Premiership, the Cypriot League is comprised of 12 teams before splitting into two. The top half will battle for the title and European places with the bottom six aiming to avoid relegation.

Although the title is out of Omonia’s reach, they are still in the hunt for a Europa League spot and have already booked a place in the cup final against Apollon on 18 May. The Cavan man has contributed 15 goals in the league this season on top of his three strikes in the Europa League qualifiers.

Sheridan is hoping to continue his fine form into the final weeks of the season after spending time with sports psychologist Niall Stack from the start of this year.

“Since January I’ve been consistently in the starting line-up and involved in lots of goals. Playing the full 90 minutes also helps. Before, I was taken off with 15 or 20 minutes to go in a match. I never thought much about it before but it seems obvious now that the longer you’re on the pitch, the more of an impact you can have.”

Sheridan started his career with Celtic but failed to cement a regular place in the team, while also having loan spells with Motherwell, Plymouth Argyle and St Johnstone and admits that he didn’t always approach those loan spells with the right mentality.

“During my time at Celtic, I probably didn’t use the loans to my benefit. I was going to smaller teams with different training facilities and I was a bit fed up. In the back of my head, I knew I was going back to Celtic at the end of the season.”

He left the safety net of Celtic to join CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria in 2010 but a lack of opportunities meant the move didn’t go to plan but didn’t put him off leaving the UK again and would encourage other British and Irish players to make the move, citing the opportunity to play in European competitions as one of the reasons.

Sheridan is the last Irish player to have played in the Champions League, having been part of the APOEL squad that made the group stage last season and was drawn with Barcelona, PSG and Ajax.

“Playing abroad wasn’t something I thought of doing. I’m not sure if it’s a case of other players saying no or not having the opportunities to go. I don’t know why they wouldn’t want to go abroad, especially if you’re not challenging for league titles or for a place in Europe.”

His faint hopes of getting a place on the plane for Euro 2016 appear to be already over after Martin O’Neill left Sheridan out of the original 40-man squad for the March friendlies against Switzerland and Slovakia, although having already won three caps, he says playing for Ireland remains the greatest honour for him personally.

“It’s not a decision I can make, I just have to keep scoring, it’s nothing I can force. Maybe I’m not the type of player they want. The squad doesn’t seem to change too much.”

Neither O’Neill nor anybody from the FAI has been in touch with Sheridan but he remains hopeful if not optimistic on his role with the team in the future.

“I’m not an U21 player coming through. I’m still young but I’m not the next generation. I had the honour to play for Cavan at minor level, and playing for Ireland is definitely the pinnacle for me.”

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About the author:

Shane Costello

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