James McClean and national anthems booed by fans in tense Aviva clash 10 months ago

James McClean and national anthems booed by fans in tense Aviva clash

James McClean would have anticipated the reaction he received when he took to the Aviva pitch against Northern Ireland.

McClean has been on the receiving end of plenty of criticism in recent weeks for his annual refusal to wear a poppy on his jersey and Thursday night was no different.

Friendlies between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are seldom anything resembling friendly and Thursday evening's meeting had all the hallmarks of a politically charged and historically hostile derby.

Ahead of kick-off at the Aviva Stadium, home supporters greeted God Save The Queen with a chorus of boos while a similar reaction followed Amhrán na bhFiann from the away fans.

McClean, as he tends to do, bombed forward at every opportunity for Martin O'Neill's side and that meant that he just so happened to be attacking the stand occupied by fans who had travelled south of the border to watch the game.

Every touch for the Derryman was booed, every mistake was relished and the volley he blazed over the bar after 20 minutes was enjoyed by the Northern Ireland supporters more than any other incident in the first half.

McClean represented Northern Ireland at U21 level but switched allegiances to declare for the Republic's senior team in 2012.

The Stoke City winger has a tattoo on his left leg of the sign 'You are now entering Free Derry' and recently hit out at the Football Association's investigation into a critical Instagram post by announcing that he regularly receives sectarian abuse when representing his club.

He said: "Week in week out for the past seven years I get constant sectarian abuse, death threats, objects being thrown, chanting which is heard loud and clear every week which my family, wife and kids have to listen to.

"They turn a blind eye and not a single word or condemnation of any sort.

"Huddersfield away last year while playing for West Brom where there was an incident with their fans which was on the game highlights, where the cameras clearly caught it, yet the FA when [a] complaint was made to them said there 'was not enough evidence'.

"If it was a person's skin colour or if it was anti-Muslim, someone's gender, there would be an uproar and it would be taken in a completely different way and dealt with in a different manner.

"But like in Neil Lennon's case in Scotland, because we are Irish Catholics, they turn a blind eye and nothing is ever said and done."