James McClean makes ambitious request after captaining Ireland to victory
Not sure if he gets the role and purpose of the media.
James McClean is hoping for more positivity from the media after Ireland pumped some life, and points, into their European Championship Qualifying campaign by seeing off the World No.201 side, Gibraltar.
McClean told RTÉ'S Tony O'Donoghue that his 100th cap presentation, from President Michael D. Higgins, was "incredible', and thanked the crowd at Aviva Stadium for their warm reception.
On the match itself, during which the captain provided two assists, the Derry native hopes it will be a launchpad for greater deeds in this Euro 2024 Qualifying Group. There were 'a bit of nerves and anxiety' in the team after Friday's loss to Greece, which he felt played a part in the scoreless first half.
"These young lads could have crumbled," said McClean, "but they didn't. They showed their quality and got their goals."
This was only the second time in Gibraltar's history that they made it to half-time level at 0-0. The only other time this happened in international football was against Ireland, in 2019.
James McClean and his wishful thinking
Ireland are currently third in their five-team group but The Netherlands, in fourth, have a game in hand. They next play France, away, before welcoming The Netherlands in Aviva Stadium.
McClean made an ambitious request, directed at the Irish media, and stressed this is a young team that is finding its' collective feet in international football.
"We have a tendency here to jump to conclusions, especially when it is a negative. Look, we are only three games in. We have that game at home with Greece. We have to win that. We've still got the Dutch to play, twice, and France away, and Gibraltar.
"There's a lot of games to play. Points are going to be taken off each other. We just have to make sure we have the least [amount of points] taken off us."
"We're all in this together," he added. "Ideally we'd love to have the media on our side, a bit of positivity would help, especially with a young squad."
James McClean marked his 100th Ireland cap with two assists and a 3-0 win and he say all the players are still behind Stephen Kenny. "We're all in this together. Ideally we'd love to have the media on our side, a bit of positivity would help with a young squad." #RTEsoccer pic.twitter.com/XfxHa4K232
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 19, 2023
Of course, it is not the role of the media to be a cheerleader, or to gloss over clear failings, of a national team. This Ireland team has a number of shortcomings, for all their passion and endeavour, and having an open discussion around that would ideally lead to improvements.
It is only when critiques of managers and players gets personal, and pushes past the usual sporting boundaries, that it should be kept in check. It is naïve, though, to think you can keep selecting young players and telling the media to leave off because you have young players in your squad. Added to that point, nine players in that current Ireland squad are aged 25 and over. That squad has a combined caps total of 471 games.
"I said to the lads in the huddle, tonight," McClean revealed, "that to create something special, it has to begin somewhere, and let's make sure that this is the first step in hopefully qualifying for Germany [and the Euros]."
WATCH HOUSE OF FOOTBALL:
- Ireland v Gibraltar: Player ratings as pressure eased on Stephen Kenny
- Liam Brady to leave RTÉ after 25 years in punditry chair
- Former Ireland player reportedly being lined up to succeed Stephen Kenny
- FAI chiefs to meet for discussions over Stephen Kenny’s future
- Ireland players rally around Stephen Kenny as calls for change build