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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 6 April, 2020

'It's very strange how the international management team overlook this league'

Cork City’s Conor McCormack believes there are League of Ireland players worthy of international recognition.

Conor McCormack Cork City captain Conor McCormack. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

MORE PLAYERS IN the SSE Airtricity League deserve to follow in the footsteps of Graham Burke by being capped by the Republic of Ireland while playing at home.

That’s the view of Conor McCormack, who’ll be hoping to captain Cork City to a third successive FAI Cup triumph at the expense of Dundalk in Sunday’s decider.

Having been introduced as a substitute in a friendly against France in May, Burke — then of Shamrock Rovers and now at Preston North End — became the first domestic player in 11 years to win a senior Ireland cap.

McCormack believes there are others capable of emulating him, particularly given the national team’s recent struggles. Dundalk winger Michael Duffy, a native of Derry, could be in line to do so when his international clearance goes through. There have also been calls for Lilywhites striker Patrick Hoban to be given a chance by Ireland boss Martin O’Neill.

While O’Neill has lacked forward options, Hoban hasn’t been summoned despite finishing Dundalk’s triumphant Premier Division campaign with a remarkable haul of 29 goals.

When asked if he feels that the 27-year-old striker is worthy of international recognition, McCormack said: “This league is obviously overlooked in that regard. Around a quarter of the players in the Ireland squad now all started here and I wouldn’t say they’ve changed massively since they left.

Martin O'Neill Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“They’ve gone on to play in better teams with better players, but they didn’t just become capable of playing international football overnight. It’s very strange how the international management team overlook this league. There’s so much quality here.

“With how they’re playing now, there doesn’t seem to be any way forward for Ireland at the minute. They might as well use the talented players here who are in form, scoring goals and creating goals, rather than playing guys who are not even playing for teams in the Championship.

“It’s strange, but that’s the way it’s always been and it looks like that’s how it’ll always be. We’ve all cried out for these players to be called up but they’re not going to do it unfortunately.” 

An ankle injury sustained by Hoban in Dundalk’s draw with Bohemians on Friday has been one of the main talking points in the build-up to this weekend’s clash with Cork City at the Aviva Stadium.

McCormack fully expects the Loughrea native to be passed fit to play a part in Dundalk’s bid for a double. The Cork City midfielder knows his side will need to nullify Hoban’s influence if they’re to retain the silverware.

Patrick Hoban celebrates scoring their first goal Patrick Hoban has scored 29 league goals for Dundalk this season. Source: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

“He’s a great player,” said McCormack. “He was very good in his last spell with Dundalk. I think he had a few injuries when he went away to England, he kind of struggled a bit with a few teams, so when he came back no one was sure what way it was going to go. To be fair to him, he’s got himself right and he’s definitely a handful.

“Dundalk play to his strengths now, which is different to what they did before. They used to build it up a lot more. Now they hit him a lot more direct than what they used to. He holds the ball up, he’s strong in the air and he scores goals. That’s what every team wants.

“I’m sure the boys there love playing with him. It’s up to us to stop the delivery into him and stop him hitting form.”

Originally published at 07.15

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Paul Dollery

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