Ireland's Kevin Doyle reveals cruel manner he was told he wouldn't be needed for Poland game
After Ireland recorded a famous victory over Germany to earn at least a playoff spot for Euro 2016, they quickly looked to a showdown with Poland in Warsaw, where a win would ensure immediate qualification for France.
All of Irish soccer, no more so than Martin O’Neill’s squad, were riding the crest of a wave after Shane Long’s winner saw the Boys in Green undo the world champions.
Kevin Doyle, now of the MLS side the Colorado Rapids, was on the bench in the Aviva Stadium on that heady October night, though was never called upon by O’Neill.
He stayed with the squad as Ireland prepared to face the Poles three days later, but the Wexford man’s circumstances would soon take an unexpected and souring turn.
As Ireland were literally readying to board their flight for Warsaw, O’Neill informed Doyle that he would not be needed for the trip.
Glenn Whelan and James McClean had served their suspensions and were part of the former Celtic boss’ plans and, in a cruel twist of fate, it meant there was no room on the aircraft for Doyle.
Indeed, with even 24 hours' prior notice, the ex-Wolves striker, who made just one appearance during the qualification campaign, may have been able return to the states in time to line out for his club against the Montreal Impact.
He recalled his state of mind following event to Paul Rowan in today’s Sunday Times.
“I just put my head down and got back as quick as possible to America and my family, to training and normality. That is what I signed up for.”
Of course, Ireland lost 2-1 on the night in question and went on secure their place in France with a playoff win over Bosnia & Herzegovina and, whether or not Doyle can force his way into a squad that should feature Robbie Keane, Long and Jon Walters is only for O'Neill to know.
Doyle’s decision to follow Keane to the MLS last March was largely viewed positively as a means to have a fresh start, given the uncertain conclusion to his time with Wolves, which included loan spells with Crystal Palace and QPR.
Doyle went on to acknowledge that the move probably hindered the prospects of him adding to his 61 caps.
“If I had stayed in England and was playing weekly I would probably have a better chance, but I was thinking more of life and happiness and enjoying football in a different country.
“I didn’t let whether or not I get picked for Ireland decide my day-to-day career, to be honest with you. If they still pick me, they still pick me. If they don’t, they don’t.”