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'Matt Doherty is a fabulous right-back, but unfortunately for him I think Seamus is a better one'

Mick McCarthy discusses his selection headache at right-back.

Matt Doherty and Mick McCarthy pictured in Copenhagen ahead of last Friday's game against Denmark.
Matt Doherty and Mick McCarthy pictured in Copenhagen ahead of last Friday's game against Denmark.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND manager Mick McCarthy has admitted that his selection headache at right-back is “difficult” and “unfortunate”, as Matt Doherty’s absence from his team continues in spite of his outstanding Premier League season with Wolves.

Seamus Coleman, Ireland’s captain, was again preferred by McCarthy in last night’s 2-0 home win over Gibraltar. Doherty was an unused substitute for the Euro 2020 qualifier at the Aviva Stadium, which was also the case for Friday’s 1-1 draw away to Denmark.

The Ireland boss included both players in his starting line-up when the Boys in Green began their qualifying campaign by winning 1-0 away to Gibraltar in March. Coleman was selected at right-back, while Doherty — who has starred in a right-wing-back role for his club — was deployed as an orthodox winger.

However, McCarthy stated afterwards that the experiment “didn’t work particularly well”, as evidenced by his decision to withdraw Doherty after 11 minutes of the second half. The 27-year-old Dubliner had to settle for a late cameo as a substitute three days later as he won his seventh cap in a 1-0 home win against Georgia. 

“That really is a ridiculous assessment of it, I’m sorry to say,” McCarthy said this afternoon at the launch of the National Football Exhibition at the University of Limerick, when asked if Doherty had been the fall guy for Ireland’s abject performance in Gibraltar.

“In my opinion, Seamus is the best right-back. I think Matt Doherty is a fabulous right-back, but unfortunately for him I think Seamus is a better one.

“At this moment in time, why would I leave Seamus out? It’s always about somebody who doesn’t play. The other thing about Seamus is he’s a fabulous personality and he’s the captain of the team. It’s just difficult.”

Mick McCarthy with Matt Doherty and Seamus Coleman McCarthy selected both Doherty and Coleman in Gibraltar. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McCarthy reiterated his reluctance to attempt to fit both players into his team, pointing to Callum Robinson’s promising showing last night to illustrate his other options on the right wing.

He said: “Who do you think was the best player on the pitch last night? So why not talk about him [Callum Robinson] instead of putting Matt Doherty in that position? Callum Robinson is an attacker. Matt isn’t an attacker, he’s a right-wing-back and he is a brilliant right-wing-back for Wolves.

“Sometimes there’s unfortunately somebody that the manager just thinks is better in that position. It’s unfortunate. I can’t say anything other than that. I’m not giving you any other reasons. I really love Matt Doherty. I signed him at Wolves and he’s had a great career.”

McCarthy, during his time as Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, brought Doherty to Molineux after being impressed by his performance for Bohemians in a friendly against Wolves at Dalymount Park in July 2010.

He played in all 38 of Wolves’ games in the Premier League in the 2018-19 campaign, as they secured Europa League qualification in their first season back in the top flight. 

Everton defender Coleman, who was nominated for the Premier League’s Player of the Month award for March, won his 53rd Ireland cap last night against Gibraltar.

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Paul Dollery

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