Wednesday 7 December 2016

'It's not right for the fans or players'- Eamon Dunphy blasts snub of Damien Delaney by Irish management

Tom Rooney

Published 14/03/2016 | 22:20

Crystal Palace's Damien Delaney
Crystal Palace's Damien Delaney

Eamon Dunphy has said that the Irish management are doing the entire country a disservice if they are refusing to pick Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney due to past grievances.

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Martin O’Neill named a 40-man panel on Friday for the Republic of Ireland’s upcoming friendlies with Slovakia and Switzerland and there had been considerable speculation that the Cork native may have been included.

He was not, with players such as Blackburn’s Shane Duffy and Alex Pearce of Bristol City selected ahead of Delaney, who has made 29 appearances for Palace this season, all of which have been starts.

O’Neill cited the former Ipswich defender’s age for deciding on the once capped Duffy in favour of the 35-year-old Delaney.

"Damien is 35 and Shane isn't," O’Neill  said.

However, the former Leicester City boss and Delaney have endured tempestuous relations in the past. Delaney has nine international caps, the last of which was won in a 2014 friendly against Turkey prior to Ireland heading to America for a small tour.

O’Neil claimed that the Delaney told him that he was not particularly interested in lining out for Ireland unless he could be guaranteed a starting place. O’Neill recalled the incident while on TV3 as a panellist last month.

“It’s an interesting one with Damien. I’m in charge a couple of years but the summer before last, we had a collection of players together and a trip to America. Damien played in our match before that against Turkey but I think he felt he was never going to be first choice and declined to go to America. That didn’t augur too well.”

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Last August Delaney released a statement announcing his international retirement that alluded to some of the issues he may have had in the past with the Irish management team, including Roy Keane who he played under at Ipswich Town.

However, the issue has remained a sporadic talking point in the interim and, speaking on 2FM’s Game On tonight, Dunphy said that overlooking Delaney and continuing with some of the defenders that have featured over the last two years was a serious error. Even more so with the Euros now fast approaching.

“It’s wrong. This guy is playing in the Premier League, he’s a very good player. He’s been in the Premier League all year. We have Paul McShane, who’s playing for Reading and he’s not a very good defender.

“The guy at Derby County (Richard Keogh), not a very good defender and has had a couple of nightmares. And, we’ve got a Premier League player and we’re not even putting him on the plane?

“That’s not right for the fans, the other players; this guy should be in the team really, and he certainly should be in the squad.”

During Roy Keane’s tumultuous reign at Ipswich, it is said that he and Delaney had been at loggerheads and Dunphy described an incident when the latter found himself in front of the magistrates for a driving offence. Furthermore, the pundit said that if any past issues are precluding O'Neill and Keane from calling upon Delaney then the buck stops with them.

“He was playing for Keane at Ipswich and he was up on a speeding charge and pleaded mitigation. He said he worked for a very demanding manager and was terrified of being late, hence he was 80 mph or whatever he was doing.

“To make that issue four or five years down the road, when the whole country is going to be glued to the television watching the games and this guy is not playing  because of some incident like that.

“Because he had a row with Roy Keane or he had a misunderstanding with Martin O’Neill; it’s not right that the Irish team should be deprived of a player because of personal differences.

“It should not be happening. This guy is top class. We don’t have any Premier League defenders apart from John O’Shea- the other guy is injured, from Stoke (Marc Wilson) So, something is not right there. “

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