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Dublin: 7°C Friday 15 January 2021

'It’s a huge honour for me and my family' - Ever-reliable Meyler steps up to take captain's armband

The Hull City midfielder filled the role in the absence of Seamus Coleman and Jon Walters last night.

Meyler wearing the armband.
Meyler wearing the armband.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DAVID MEYLER HAS never been automatic starter for Ireland, but Martin O’Neill knows he can depend on him to do a job when called upon.

Whether it was filling in at full-back in the 1-1 draw with Germany during the previous campaign or coming on early in Vienna and starting the move that produced the winning goal, the Hull City man has become the ultimate squad player.

Last night, the 28-year-old was handed the captain’s armband with Seamus Coleman and Jon Walters both unavailable through injuries — starting at the base of the midfield in the World Cup qualifier at home to Moldova.

“It’s a huge honour for me and my family, but it’s more important that we got the three points and won the game,” said Meyler, son of Cork U21 hurling manager John. “Now we have it all to play for on Monday against Wales.”

Barring an undercooked back-pass to Randolph, Meyler looked comfortable in the role and, despite the fact that Moldova were allowed far too much time and space in the second half, he looks well-placed to start ahead of Glenn Whelan against Wales.

“I don’t know about him keeping the armband, did he do enough to stay in the side or not?” O’Neill laughed, during his post-match press conference.

I like Meyler, sometimes he gets… I like Meyler. That’s why I made him the captain. He has never really let us down.

We’ll see. I have got a couple of players coming back. I’ve got [James] McClean, who has been brilliant for us and [Robbie] Brady, who is just starting to recapture his form again, which is great.

“They’re coming back in and hopefully nothing happens to them over the weekend so they’re fit, available and ready.

“As I’ve said, McClean and Brady have been brilliant for us so you have to fit those players in. There’s a fairly decent chance that both will start and we’ll see where we are.”

Daryl Murphy celebrates scoring a goal with Shane Long and David Meyler Congratulating Daryl Murphy with Shane Long. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

It was a good night in general for ex-League of Ireland players. As well as Meyler, once of Cork City, named as skipper, former Waterford striker Daryl Murphy bagged two goals, while Sean Maguire was handed his senior international debut.

“I’m delighted for Murph to get the two goals, [Shane] Longy should have had two but on another night he probably would have got them.

“It’s always nice to see someone score — at club level or international level. He deserved his two goals and deserved man-of-the-match.

“Sean has done fantastic at Cork City and he has impressed since going to Preston. Look, he has got his opportunity and worked hard. He got his just reward tonight with an international debut.

Now he needs to put his head down and he will get more chances.”

Ireland’s number one Darren Randolph had little to do but pulled off a top-class save on 27 minutes from Sergiu Platica’s brilliant effort.

“If you want to be a top goalkeeper, you have to be alert all the time,” said Meyler. “When you’re called upon you’ve got to produce and that’s what he did. Darren’s a brilliant keeper and we’re delighted for him to get the clean sheet.”

On the 2-0 win, he added: “It’s a sticky one because in the press you’re talking about the Wales game and everybody expects us to walk over Moldova but they’re a good team — they’re no mugs. They are professional footballers and at times they caused us a problem in the middle, but they never really looked threatening.

“They had a couple of long-distance shots but I felt we were comfortable and we dealt with everything. It’s nice for the lads to get minutes and for us to get the victory. The confidence will do us the world of good going into Monday.”

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Watch: Former Cork City ace bags incredible debut hat-trick against former club in Australia

‘It’s probably the best feeling of my life’: Maguire revels in long-awaited debut

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Ben Blake

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