Friday 30 September 2016

'It's a shame to Irish football' - Robbie Brady laments Wes Hoolahan's late international career

Tom Rooney

Published 13/06/2016 | 22:33

13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Robbie Brady, left, during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Robbie Brady, left, during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Wes Hoolahan celebrates his goal against Sweden with Robbie Brady at the Stade de France. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Lamenting on what might have been is an utterly redundant enterprise but, after his most telling act in an Irish jersey, Robbie Brady could not help considering the dearth of game time Wes Hoolahan has enjoyed on the international stage.

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Over the course of Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Sweden, it wasn't the lauded Zlatan Ibrahimović who regularly illuminated the often crude contest with moments of genuine brilliance, but a pint-sized Dubliner largely unknown to the game’s greater audience.

Wes Hoolahan, finally showing his wares at a major tournament, weaved Ireland’s play into a frequently potent yarn, scuttling around the Parisian turf with a heightened intent.

Amazingly, the 34-year-old was representing his country for just the 31st time. When considering how he was banished into the international wilderness by Giovanni Trapattoni, few could have blamed the former Belvedere youth for thinking this day would never come.

He persevered, however, and over the last three years has become a vital cog in the Martin O’Neill machine.

Eight minutes after the restart at the Stade de France, he gave Ireland the lead with the type of goal that will forever live with those netted by Houghton, Quinn and Holland at the other global tournaments Ireland have graced.

As a club mate and friend, the also impressive Robbie Brady was somewhat bittersweet in assessing Hoolahan’s bravura display.

"He was excellent, which he always is. He's one of these lads you think he might get caught on the ball sometimes and he always just manages to come up with something to get himself out of it,” Brady said. (First published in Sports Joe)

"He's a joy to play with and it's a joy to watch him play.

"It's a shame to football, it's a shame to Irish football especially, that he didn't have that much time and people didn't get to see him for more time. But he's here now so I think people just need tune in and watch the best of him because he's a top class player.”

Meanwhile, Robbie Keane claimed that Ireland deserved nothing less than a win for their showing in their European Championship opener .

Keane, who made a brief cameo, did temper his remarks by saying that Ireland would be in a determined frame of mind for Saturday’s must-win game against Belgium, who were soundly beaten by Italy tonight.

"It is what it is. We certainly deserved to win the game and the three points. There's no question about it but it happens in football. It's a cruel game sometimes but one thing we can't do is get our heads down and be moping around because we put in a hell of a performance. All we have to do now is take a lot of positives from this game and move on to Belgium."

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