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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 27 October 2020

'An argument that was never there' - David McGoldrick explains his recent Irish absence

Elsewhere, the striker suggested a couple of initiation songs for new boy James Collins.

David McGoldrick speaks to the media.
David McGoldrick speaks to the media.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

JAMES COLLINS AND David McGoldrick spoke to the media after Irish training today, players sharing a position and a sense of a belated return to international duty. 

Luton Town striker Collins is among the senior squad for the first time, having last played for the Irish U21s in 2012 while McGoldrick is back in camp for the first time since October 2017.

“I was nervous yesterday meeting the boys”, Collins admitted, “but they have been great. I know a lot of them from my time with the 21s. Today it was nice going out on the grass with all the lads, with the calibre of player in the squad.” 

This being Collins’ debut camp, he may soon to maintain initiation traditions and sing in front of his new teammates. 

“I’ll be alright! I ain’t got a great voice, but I’ll be alright.” 

Sitting beside him, McGoldrick weighed in on the likely song choice. 

“I think he’s got a soft little girl’s voice beneath it all, so maybe a bit of Whitney or Mariah!” 

James Collins James Collins. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

McGoldrick’s last involvement came during the double-header against Moldova and Wales in qualification for the 2018 World Cup. He hasn’t been in a squad since then, and hasn’t played for Ireland since the defeat to Mexico in June 2017. 

“I had a few injuries and lost form. I wasn’t playing and wasn’t myself. That’s why I found myself out of the squad.

“I feel like I’ve got that back, I’m back playing to my best. I’m having a good, successful season with Sheffield United now and I’m delighted to be back representing my country.” 

McGoldrick insists that his absence had nothing to do with a supposed falling-out with Martin O’Neill. 

People are searching for something that’s not there. It’s down to form. Players were coming into the squad – Seani Maguire, Aiden O’Brien, Scott Hogan, Ronan Curtis, all young boys coming through. He wanted to look at them and I know I wasn’t doing the business.

“We had a conversation after one of the games – Moldova I think – I didn’t get on the bench and we spoke about it. That’s it. People are trying to reach out for an argument that was never there. I have huge respect for Martin and Roy and all the staff.

“They gave me my debut and I will always be indebted to them for that. I hold them in high regard.

You have conversations about when you don’t make the bench. Mick will have them on Saturday. There are always conversations with players as to why they aren’t being selected. Players are unhappy; everybody wants to play. I wasn’t happy that I wasn’t playing, but there was no fallout. We spoke about it, but we had breakfast after. It’s football, that’s just how it is.

“My form wasn’t good enough. I scored six or seven goals at Ipswich last year, that’s not knocking down anyone’s door to come in and get a chance. I don’t think that’s the case. It wasn’t happening for the boys but that’s football. I don’t think I should have been selected just because of that.

“It’s different now. I’ve got back on my feet now.” 

The process in how he has done so is a good story. McGoldrick suffered because of Mick McCarthy’s exit from Ipswich, told after an injury-interrupted season he was no longer wanted. He then had to go on trial with Sheffield United to prove his worth. 

It went well. After training on a Monday and playing a trial game the following day, McGoldrick was offered a one-year contract with the club as other interested parties hovered in the background. Having scored 12 goals for the Blades thus far this season, he recently penned a two-year contract extension. 

“That’s what I needed, a kick up the backside to show where I’m at”, testifies McGoldrick, and says signing with a club now in the Championship’s automatic promotion places is “the best thing I’ve done.” 

McGoldrick is 31 now, and eager to make up for lost time. Although he has played six times for Ireland, he has managed a meagre 12 minutes in competitive games.

“It was a long 12 minutes as well, Jesus. In the hole against Austria, chasing. Fuck, didn’t touch the ball.

“No, I was always positive. Daryl Murphy, he was still playing last year and he’s about 45 so there was always hope I’d get a game.

“I feel positive and fresh. I’m buzzing to be back.”

Collins didn’t have quite that confidence, saying that even when he was named in the provisional squad he wasn’t getting his hopes up as he knew it was to be cut. When asked if he thought his chance had gone, Collins replied “Definitely.”

James Collins and Jack Byrne Collins is tackled in training by Jack Byrne. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I was always realistic that you had to play at a certain level to play for Ireland. I’ve had to work my way up from the bottom and I’m really fortunate that the manager has given me a chance.” 

That he has been given one as the top scorer in League One is indicative of the fact McCarthy will likely select on form, according to McGoldrick. 

“Under Mick it is about how you train during the week, if you impress him during the week he will have no problem throwing you in.

“It’s down to us as players to do it.” 

One of the sticking points of Martin O’Neill’s reign, the naming of teams to players less than two hours before kick-off, will likely end under McCarthy. 

Mick knows all about me. I worked under him for five-and-a-half years. I know what I can give, I know I can score goals and assist, and hopefully if I get the chance to play I can do either.

“You’ve got to work, got to put your body on the line. It was the same under Martin, you have to work.

“Mick spoke about how he wants to play, and I’m sure Mick will name the team on the Thursday or the Friday before the game so we can do work on it.”

Since McGoldrick was last involved in an Irish camp, Ireland have played 11 times, of which they’ve won one (a friendly), lost five and failed to even score in seven.

“It’s been a long eighteen months”, said McGoldrick of his international exile. 

Not half. 

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Gavin Cooney

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