Sport Soccer

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Hendrick stuck for words at top table

JEFF HENDRICK laid a goal on a plate for Robbie Keane against Georgia last Sunday, but the Derby midfielder admitted he was speechless when he found himself sitting next to the skipper for dinner in Stockholm back in March.

The young midfielder was 10-years-old when Keane was lighting up the World Cup in 2002 and recalls watching the games at home in Dublin with his face painted. He found it surreal to be mixing with a hero from that tournament.

"He hadn't been in the squad for the Poland game in February and I'd never met him before," Hendrick said . "I was a bit nervous and I didn't know what way to answer him. I couldn't get over it. But I've got to know him a better now – it's mad."

Hendrick, who was born in January 1992, is the youngest member of this panel. David Forde, who turns 34 later this year, is the oldest.

MCCLEAN'S OLD FOE A BIG WINNER FOR DERRY

James McClean will never lose touch with his Derry roots and tries to get to the Brandywell regularly when he gets home. He's had a few run-ins with Branislav Ivanovic on Sunderland duty, but the Serbian did McClean's old mates at Derry City a favour by heading Chelsea to Europa League glory.

A detailed explanation of the UEFA co-efficient system would send a hyperactive child to sleep, but, to make a long story short, the domino effect on seedings from Ivanovic's goal means that last year's FAI Cup winners enter the Europa League at the second qualifying round stage as opposed to the first hurdle.

GREEN LIGHT GIVEN TO ONE-OFF GAMES

The 'Dublin Decider' between Celtic and Liverpool sets a precedent for stand-alone friendlies between two non-Irish teams taking place here in the future.

Minister Michael Ring cited their strong Irish connections – and the support base for both clubs here cannot be disputed – but sanctioning the fixture means that the FAI would have a weak case for blocking a similar event in, say, Limerick.

The prevention of Barcelona's visit to Thomond Park in 2010 remains a deeply unfortunate incident – a clash with Airtricity League fixtures was one of the laughable excuses offered – and the fall-out eventually led to Limerick and Thomond being able to stage one high-profile game a year, with Manchester City visiting last August.

Certainly, the stand-alone games are easier to package than a four-team tournament such as the Dublin Super Cup which included an Airtricity League XI. Part of the selling point then was offering local players the chance to play against that level of opponent.

But now that the green light has been given to games between high-profile teams from other jurisdictions, promoters will surely examine the possibilities – and they don't all have to involve the Aviva.

Number of the day

7 The margin of the record defeat suffered by the Faroe Islands since they gained FIFA membership in 1988. Ireland have 10 goals to make up on Austria so they have incentive to go for that record on Friday.

Irish Independent

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