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David McGoldrick, the hero against the Swiss, is the perfect symbol for this Irish team

The Sheffield United striker scored a vital equaliser last night.

David McGoldrick celebrates his goal.
David McGoldrick celebrates his goal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DAVID MCGOLDRICK’S CAREER has enjoyed quite a turnaround in recent times.

It seems likely that the striker would regard the summer of 2018 as one of his lowest ebbs in football.

McGoldrick was released by Ipswich in that period, with Mick McCarthy’s successor Paul Hurst confirming his departure in June.

“If I’m honest, a year ago, looking at it when the phone wasn’t ringing, playing in the Premier League would have been looked a long way off to look at. But I always would have had confidence in myself,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The player’s injury record was a concern for clubs. Sheffield United initially only agreed to take him on trial.

It was a steep fall for McGoldrick. In the 2014-15 season, Leicester City — newly promoted to the Premier League and impressed with his form — put in a £5 million bid for him. Had the offer been accepted, the Irish international may well have ultimately ended up with a Premier League winners’ medal, but instead, Ipswich held out for £8 million and the Foxes ended their interest.

Subsequent injuries meant he struggled to play to his potential, and the club ultimately surely regretted not accepting Leicester’s bid.

Before taking him on, Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder met with McCarthy and asked about McGoldrick’s injury problems. Part of the issue had been the three-hour commute from his Nottingham home that he was taking to training on a regular basis.

When some had written off McGoldrick, Wilder told the media he was not a “transfer snob” when it came to signing players that had been deemed surplus to requirements elsewhere.

“David showed his obvious class. He is a player who has spent his career at the top end of the Championship,” the manager told reporters. “We’re looking for quality and he showed a willing to come in on Monday and play as a trialist on Tuesday, so we’ll have another look at him at Mansfield. I’m not a snob in terms of where I get my players and I thought his link-up play with Leon (Clarke) was excellent.”

“He’s a technically gifted player who wants to come in and earn a contract and I’m not ruling anyone out. We’ve got an excellent group, but we need to improve, so we’ll continue to assess things with David, who is comfortable with the situation and he hasn’t done himself any harm.”

McGoldrick continued to impress and ultimately earned a contract at the club. Last season in the Championship, he scored 15 goals in 45 appearances having managed six in 22 with Ipswich the previous season. It was a career best at that level in terms of goals, while there was only one other season (2008-09) where he managed to breech the 40-barrier in terms of matches played.

The Ireland star was rewarded with a new contract in the summer and has started three out of four of the Blades’ Premier League games this season.

It has also been quite a turnaround in relation to his Ireland career. Having earned six caps (just 12 minutes of which were competitive action) under Martin O’Neill without ever really establishing himself in the team, at one point, his days as an international looked to be over. Even with Ireland desperately struggling for goals and McGoldrick in the form of his life at club level, the player was ignored by the manager for all of 2018 and continually absent even from squads from October 2017 onwards. Nevertheless the player insisted last March that there was never any falling out with the management.

“People are trying to reach out for an argument that was never there,” he said. “I have huge respect for Martin and Roy and all the staff.

“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.”

Yet it is under McCarthy — the man who managed him for a number of seasons at Ipswich and had a minor role in his acquisition of a contract at Sheffield United — that McGoldrick has started to thrive for Ireland.

The Irish manager is renowned for getting the best out of players, and that appears to be the case with McGoldrick, who has impressed and started in every qualifier so far.

It has been a remarkable ascent for the forward, who turns 32 in November. In many ways, a variation of his story recurs throughout the Ireland team.

james-mcclean-with-kevin-mbabu Republic of Ireland's James McClean with Kevin Mbabu of Switzerland. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Of last night’s starters, Seamus Coleman, James McClean and Enda Stevens all began their careers playing in the League of Ireland.

Darren Randolph, Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane and Callum Robinson all spent at least a season playing League One or lower.

Jeff Hendrick is the sole exception who has never played lower than the Championship, but he is enduring a tough time of late with Burnley, having failed to start a single Premier League game this season.

In other words, like McGoldrick, most if not all these Irish players have been written off at one point or another.

They have all been at rock bottom and required patience to work their way back up the leagues amid the grind of lower-tier football.

Last night, Ireland secured an important draw, despite coming up against a Swiss team who were better than them by almost every measure and who outplayed them for large periods of the game.

One of the most commonly used phrases to describe the Irish performance was ‘resilient’. That word applies not just to the game last night, but to entire careers of several players out there, as they stubbornly fought their way towards stardom when obscurity loomed.

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Bernard Jackman make the case for Ireland winning… and tanking at the Rugby World Cup, as we gear up for Wales again: 


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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