Monday 5 December 2016

I thought my Ireland days were over, admits Doyle

Published 10/11/2016 | 02:30

Colin Doyle has been through tough times on his road back to the Ireland squad. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Colin Doyle has been through tough times on his road back to the Ireland squad. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

It has been nine long years since Colin Doyle won his one and only Irish cap and although a lot of water has crossed under the bridge since then, he is back where he feels he belongs.

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The 1-1 draw with Ecuador at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey during Steve Staunton's tenure may not have lived long in the memory of most supporters but, for Doyle, it remains the proudest moment of his career.

That more caps haven't followed is naturally disappointing but the 31-year-old has suffered plenty of injuries as well as issues off the pitch.

Six years ago, Doyle's youngest son Liam was diagnosed with meningitis and although the brave youngster has battled his way through the illness, there have been plenty of tough times along the way.

"He's good now," Doyle thankfully informs us.

"He had meningitis a couple of times and he has side-effects like epilepsy from it, but if you look at him he looks like any other child. But no, he's good. You savour these moments. It's been good this last year."

Having spent the majority of his professional career at Birmingham City, he fell out of favour with the club and after several loan spells, he eventually ended his 14-year stay at the club when he joined Blackpool last year.

Toughness

After being named club captain, he suffered a shoulder injury and then damaged ankle ligaments in the first three months at Blackpool. His mental toughness again came to the fore and although he played 33 times for the club last season, he couldn't stop them from being relegated to League Two.

Doyle however had impressed enough for Bradford City to come calling and now first-choice goalkeeper at the promotion-chasing League One side, the Cork native feels as if he has earned his place in the Ireland squad.

Martin O'Neill has recently opted for U-21 duo Ian Lawlor and Danny Rogers as well as his namesake Gary Rogers. Doyle has now forced his way back into the international squad for the first time since 2009 but he admits that he had doubts about earning another call-up.

"There were times when I was looking at squads and the likes of Gary Rogers of Dundalk was in it, and then the last one where the two U-21 keepers were called in.

"I thought I was playing well enough in League One in England, third in the league, so I thought I would get a chance, you know what I mean?

"I thought maybe it is (international career over) and then this squad came around and I'm back in it, so I'm thrilled to be involved.

"You only have to look at Shay Given. He's on the bench at Stoke and he's 40. As long as you are healthy and are still able to do it, you want to play as long as you can. That's what I certainly want to do.

"I've got to keep doing what I'm doing at Bradford and hopefully we win enough games.

"We are trying to aim for that promotion and if we get that promotion back to the Championship, it will only do me good in terms of getting into the squad down the line."

His last couple of years at Birmingham were tough and Doyle admits that he almost fell out of love with the game but the move to Blackpool and subsequently Bradford has rejuvenated him.

As much as Doyle was relieved to seal his move to Bradford, he had to put up with plenty of stick after the club triggered a release clause in his contract for just £1.

"It was just one of those things," he smiles.

"I had it in my contract I could go on a free if we got relegated but because I signed a two-year contract the FA wouldn't allow it. It was a technicality, I suppose. It had to be done to get around it."

The 2018 World Cup was once an unrealistic goal but it has suddenly come into sharp focus. Doyle won't get ahead of himself but he has taken inspiration from how his former Birmingham room-mate Darren Randolph has bided his time and taken his chance on the international stage.

"There is a good crop of goalkeeper flying about at the moment," Doyle maintains.

"With Shay gone and (David) Fordy saying he wants to concentrate on his club, yeah it's good for Ireland but the way Darren is playing at the moment he is obviously staking his claim for that No 1 shirt and he's doing well to keep it.

Picture

"It's what I wanted. The club didn't actually tell me (about the call-up). They didn't realise. When they (FAI) released the provisional squad, the club got it and then the main squad was released in the press.

"It was actually my mate that texted me and said 'congratulations' with a picture of an Irish flag. I sort of put two and two together and checked the press and saw I was in the squad.

"It's what you want, as long as I'm playing every week which I hope to be doing well and if we qualified then it would be a dream to go there."

Irish Independent

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