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Ex-Scotland boss: Change the rule that allows McCarthy and McGeady to play for Ireland

Craig Brown: “I would have wanted them to play for Scotland but the rules are the rules.”

The Republic of Ireland's Scottish-born duo James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady.
The Republic of Ireland's Scottish-born duo James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady.
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

IF CRAIG BROWN was setting the rules, James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady would be playing for Scotland — and not the Republic of Ireland — at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday.

Ireland face the Scots in Dublin in a crucial Euro 2016 qualifier, and Irish manager Martin O’Neill will be hoping that McCarthy and McGeady can help to deliver all three points at the expense of the country of their birth.

Both players were born in Scotland but qualify to represent Ireland by virtue of their Irish grandparents. However, according to Craig Brown, that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

The former Scotland manager believes Ireland were right to avail of the pair’s eligibility to wear the green jersey, and says he often envied former boss Jack Charlton’s ability to unearth Irish-qualified players.

But Brown believes that a player should only be free to represent a country if he, or his parents, are born there. The same should apply to management and backroom staff, in Brown’s view.

“If the player is eligible and good enough, then you have to pick him,” said Brown. “If they’re eligible, you’re not doing your job if you don’t pick them, and Big Jack [Charlton] did that to perfection.

“I personally think the rule should be that you are either born in Scotland, or your parents are, not your grandparents. The other thing I think too, the staff should all be on the same criteria. That’s my humble opinion.

1006578 Ex-Scotland boss Craig Brown was in Dublin in association with the McDonalds' FAI Future Football programme. Source: Sportsfile

“If I was making the FIFA laws, I would say the manager’s eligibility has got to be the same as the players’. So is the doctor, so is the physio. Nobody should be allowed on the staff of a team unless they’re of the same eligibility as a player.”

Brown added: “I would have wanted them [James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady] to play for Scotland but the rules are the rules. And you use the rules to your best.”

Brown, who’s currently a non-executive director at Aberdeen, is full of praise for the Dons’ Irish striker Adam Rooney. The 27-year-old has yet to be capped by Ireland, but when asked if Rooney is capable of scoring goals at international level, Brown said:

“Yeah. Any level. I think a scorer is a scorer. That’s my feeling, but that’s an old-fashioned feeling. A goalscorer is a goalscorer.

“Rooney is an unbelievable goalscorer. He’s always where there’s a chance and he’s outstandingly brave. When I was at Preston I had Northern Ireland’s record scorer [David] Healy. Healy was a wonderful goalscorer and a great striker — a great boy. But he wouldn’t put his head in where Rooney puts his head in.

“If a ball comes across the box, Rooney is brave. That’s what I like about him. He’s powerful, strong and brave. So therefore he has proved he can score a goal.

“I wouldn’t like to play against Rooney because he’d give me a right hard time. Even if he’s not scoring. There are other strikers who are technically better, like David Healy.

PA-22403651 Aberdeen's Irish striker Adam Rooney. Source: Jeff Holmes

“David Healy was a wonderful player — player of the year when I was at Preston and he’s a super wee guy — but I would play against David Healy. He might take the piss out of me but I would be able to get in about him. But Rooney just comes back for more.

“It’s comparative. I’ve not seen the other Irish strikers but I have seen Rooney in every Aberdeen game. The fans love him there and he is a happy boy.”

Ex-Scotland coach Craig Brown was in Dublin as part of the McDonalds’ FAI Future Football programme, whereby he was the keynote speaker at a symposium for development coaches from around the country. McDonalds’ FAI Future Football is a programme designed to support grassroots football clubs by enriching the work they do at local level, and it will see 800 coaches deliver a programme for over 10,000 children this summer. As part of the programme, coaches will have access to free coaching workshops, which specialise in 4-v-4, 5-v-5 and 7-v-7 games, aimed at developing skills in young players. For further information, visit McDonaldsFutureFootball.FAI.ie

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Paul Dollery

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