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11th Feb 2020

“I’m not saying that there’s no chance for anybody else, but…”

Niall McIntyre

Sometimes, you don’t even have to read between the lines.

Sometimes, you don’t even have to listen. Mick McCarthy has been managing teams since 1992, when he became the player-manager of Milwall, and somewhere in between the 29 years of trial and tribulation that have followed, he’s found his formula.

Mick’s way, a direct and traditional approach based on a rigid and predictable game-plan has brought him moderate success in his time and as the saying goes, old dogs scoff at new tricks.

So on our way down to Henry Street to sit before big Mick on a stormy Monday afternoon, almost a month out from Ireland’s big Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia, safe to say we weren’t really expecting fireworks.

But Mick’s sense of humour reassured us, no fireworks but a laugh anyway, usually.

Worth chancing our arm. How’s the team shaping up for Slovakia? Any chance of the young guns forcing their way in?

“It’s always interesting how,” begins Mick, “I’ll be getting all these different names thrown at me that’ll come in and want to play for the very first game. And continuity has been pretty much at the base of all my teams, and they’ve had that pretty much with the squad. And if you think about the best performance, the Denmark game (1-1 draw at home), I did point out to somebody that if I’d been at a club for 10 games, and we’d had the results we had, you’d expect us to be getting better after 10 games and doing exactly the same things, or at least trying to. So, there’s not going to be no big change, that’s for sure…”

Okay, along expected lines. Worth another push, maybe. So what of the young guns like Adam Idah who netted a hat-trick in the FA Cup, and these other players who are showing well?

“If the lads who have been playing are fit, they’ll be first in contention.The lads are doing all right. I know Adam Idah came in and scored a hat-trick (against Preston in the FA Cup), but he’s not played since, Aaron Connolly’s not playing, Troy Parrott couldn’t go out on loan because of his age… Jayson Molumby, saw him play yesterday, Jason Knight I’ve watched.

“Lads are doing well, O’Shea scored yesterday… They’re all doing well, but don’t think for one minute because they’re doing well in the Championship they’re all going to come in and play in the game against Slovakia because that’s not the case. But, they’re doing great and it’s brilliant for Stephen (Kenny). If that’s his u21 side and they’re all going to be playing, and playing league football, they’ll be much better for it.

You know what you’re going to get with McCarthy. No curveballs and no hoodwinking, honest and hard. Direct and straight up.

“I’m not saying that there’s no chance for anybody else, but the best performance we had was against Denmark, and that team… the players have been tried and tested and the players have been around the squad. I’m convinced, I know it’s not the game for debutants to come in expect them to play. It’s always exciting, it’s a new story, it’s great for you guys (media) if there’s one in, but if they come in and it doesn’t go well for them… I don’t know too many debutants who’ve come in and played in a playoff game…”

It’s Mick’s way or the high-way, and just maybe Mick’s way is right. Hopefully he has another big kick left in him.

The Football Association of Ireland are delighted to announce a new partnership with the leading Irish sports retailer INTERSPORT Elverys, as the new title sponsor of the FAI Summer Soccer Schools.