Saturday 10 December 2016

From Cherry Orchard to French royal palace, Quinn enjoys the ride

Published 10/06/2016 | 02:30

Stephen Quinn in possession against Jeff Hendrick Picture: Sportsfile
Stephen Quinn in possession against Jeff Hendrick Picture: Sportsfile

Stephen Quinn has already lined up the souvenir he plans to take home from Euro 2016 - the bar of chocolate with a specially-inscribed message which the FAI had waiting for the players when they reached their hotel rooms in Versailles on Wednesday evening.

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In a move of which the eponymous mother in the Irish Mammies twitter account would approve, Quinn has decided that the sweet treat is too good to be eaten and has to be brought home and be kept.

And Quinn, a late arrival on the international stage, clearly hopes that will not be all he takes home from Euro 2016.

"I'm looking to get game-time and I am not here to just make up the numbers," he says. "I'm here to play and I want to get some minutes and help my country progress from the group stage."

Giovanni Trapattoni's squad arrived back home from Poland four years ago laden down with bad memories of that outcome and some of that squad (Paul Green, Stephen Kelly, Paul McShane, Stephen Hunt) would never play in a competitive international again.

Experience

Quinn wasn't on the Ireland radar then; he was playing in England's third tier, for Sheffield United, at the time. His experience of senior international football amounted to watching his older brother Alan win caps under Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton, so Stephen's debut at the age of 27, was something he had to wait, and wait, for.

"It was a long time coming because I got picked (for a squad) under Stan Staunton a long time ago," he says.

"And then the Trap came in and I didn't get involved much at all, only towards the end of it. It was great to follow in Alan's footsteps.

"But this is the pinnacle now, this Euros, it is the pinnacle of my career and I want to play as much as I can in it."

Only Martin O'Neill can decide how much game-time, if any, Quinn gets in France but he is liked by the manager, while Roy Keane is said to be a big fan of the ex-Cherry Orchard man.

Quinn says he's been dreaming about the prospect of "snapping at the heels" of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Monday.

"I keep having little dreams about it, having little butterflies in my stomach so, if selected, I'm more than ready," he says.

"I think everyone has got a chance; the players are playing at a good level, there is quality in the side. Obviously the manager is going to look at the opposition and judge it by that as well.

"Everyone is pretty much available, we're close to a full squad. Everyone can think they have a chance of playing, it's down to the manager now what team he selects."

It's a group effort in France but Quinn does appreciate that the players are not sharing rooms at their luxury Trianon Palace in Versailles (€400 per night for a room, when the Irish squad haven't booked the place out).

"We've got our own rooms now but we've great craic so, we're always piling in on Robbie Brady's room or Shane Long's and watching TV series and episodes and having a bit of banter," Quinn says.

"There's a bit of table tennis, there is a golf simulator, a pool table: all sorts.

"We can't complain but you can't beat the craic in the room, just having a bit of banter and watching a bit of telly."

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