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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

'I don’t want a protest, I’d like to have a great evening and a game that’s enjoyed by everyone'

Ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Euro 2020 qualifier, Mick McCarthy is hoping fans concentrate on events on the pitch.

Mick McCarthy speaks to the media.
Mick McCarthy speaks to the media.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MICK MCCARTHY SAYS he would prefer if there were no fan protests at the Aviva Stadium during tomorrow night’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Switzerland. 

Amid damaging revelations about the FAI last March, the home qualifier with Georgia was interrupted in the 33rd minute, as fans threw tennis balls on the pitch, and briefly brought the game to a halt. 

When the game resumed, Conor Hourihane curled a free-kick beyond the opposition ‘keeper to score the only goal of Ireland’s 1-0 win. 

The game also featured songs and banners critical of John Delaney and the FAI, and with the Association’s discord with sports minister Shane Ross heightening since the last home game with Gibraltar in June, along with a further tranche of damaging stories emerging in The Sunday Times over the last six weeks, there are rumours of further protests set for tomorrow’s game. 

McCarthy, however, said he would prefer if supporters concentrated on the game. 

“Of course. I’m certainly not going to urge them to protest against the game or anything involved in the game”, McCarthy told his pre-match press conference.

“Unless it has the same impact as the last time – then they can bring what they want.

“I don’t want a protest no, I’d like to have a great evening and a game that’s enjoyed by everyone, and a result that’s enjoyed by everyone.” 

darren-randolph-removes-tennis-balls-from-the-pitch Darren Randolph removes tennis balls from the pitch against Georgia. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland lead Switzerland by six points in the group, albeit having played two games more. The Swiss have also yet to face Gibraltar, whom Ireland have played and beaten twice. 

Switzerland, like Ireland, have drawn with Denmark in the group thus far, but in wildly different circumstances.

They led the Danes 3-0 with just six minutes remaining in March, but contrived to lose their lead and draw 3-3. 

McCarthy said this is the biggest game of his second Irish reign, and although he said on Monday he would take a draw, he added that his side will try to win the game. McCarthy echoed that sentiment today, when asked if this will be the type of game in which his side will have to cede possession to the Swiss. 

“Well, that’s what they’d like to happen, of course, and we’ll try to stop that because they’re a very possession-based team. We’ve watched them over a couple of games – two or three games, actually – and they like to dominate a team with possession, and we’ll be doing our very best to stop that.” 

Noel King has been deployed to watch opposition games live, with McCarthy and his management team following up with video analysis. The squad spent an hour analysing their opponents yesterday, and while McCarthy was understandably coy on which areas Ireland will seek to exploit tomorrow night, he did hint again at the eternal importance of set-pieces when talking of Switzerland’s 3-3 draw with Denmark.

“The first goal [conceded] was a free-kick, I’d be looking at that thinking the centre backs should have cleared it. It ends up at 3-1 and suddenly the mood changes, they get nervous. 

I thought the Danish team scored a great goal then, passed their way through them, the right-back played them onside which is a mistake, there are always mistakes involved if you get a goal. Third goal, when it was 3-2, there was a bit of panic there, the ball was in the air a long time, I thought there were a few missed challenges and it ended up in their box. It was carnage all around. They must look at it and wonder how did they concede three goals. But it happens unfortunately, balls start getting put in the box, it bounces around, people miss headers, clearances and it ended up in the back of the net.

“They took the captain off to a standing ovation, it looked like they were going to win and it ends up 3-3, they must have been scratching their heads.

“[Set-pieces have been] a real plus for us, we’ve got good deliveries, Judgey put in a great delivery for big Duffer [against Denmark], Conor scored his goal, he has delivery with his left foot.

“We’ve got people who can attack it, we can be a threat from free-kicks and corners.” 

Ireland have a slight injury concern over Sheffield United striker Callum Robinson, who sat out today’s training session. The FAI say Robinson is nursing some tightness in his thigh, and are confident he will be fit to play tomorrow night.


Murray Kinsella joins Gavan Casey, Ryan Bailey and Sean Farrell with their immediate reaction to Ireland’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Gavin Cooney

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