Friday 24 March 2017

First cut the cruellest of all as Forde driven to despair by cull

Shay Given, right, is replaced by team-mate David Forde Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shay Given, right, is replaced by team-mate David Forde Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

In the end, loyalty was a currency that Martin O'Neill clearly felt was not bottomless.

The first cut was truly the deepest; the goalkeepers' names emerged first but David Forde, the hero of Gelsenkirchen, was not one of them.

It truly, though, defined the character of the man that, even if his name was not on the coveted list of 23 which were sent to UEFA, his autograph did make it onto the programmes of many delighted youngsters last night.

Emerging just moments after O'Neill had delivered the most devastating blow of this late bloomer's hitherto short but wonderfully colourful international career, he may have been overlooked as a contender but his character shone through in his darkest hour.

Logic utterly dictated O'Neill's choice of Keiren Westwood as one of the three netminders; such has been the wildly varied fortunes of Ireland's keepers during his tenure, it may be no surprise even to see him start against Sweden.

Amateur sleuths in the crowd had pondered whether Westwood's inactivity had been a pointer yesterday; instead it was Forde's long-term inactivity with Millwall which became the more pressing issue in O'Neill's mind.

Despite his recent history of absenteeism from Ireland squads, and the whispers that the player and manager don't exactly enjoy a warm camaraderie, this was ultimately nothing to do with personality.

It was a cold, logic decision which veered away from sentimental feeling, despite how one must feel for Forde, and indeed the others who missed out.

Nothing personal, just business.

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