McShane eager for action to help remove lasting hurt of Paris play-off
PAUL McSHANE still regularly thinks about Ireland's disappointment in Paris, so you can guess how the Hull defender feels about this Euro 2012 play-off with Estonia. It means everything.
The Wicklow native accepts that his chances of being involved are remote, but then an injury to John O'Shea means that he goes into Friday's first leg in Tallinn as second-choice right-back behind Stephen Kelly.
If Kelly picks up an injury -- just like O'Shea did on that fateful night in Paris -- then McShane could be thrust into the action, and he's determined to erase the memory of being in such close proximity to Thierry Henry when the French striker stuck out a hand to end Ireland's World Cup dream.
"It hurts to this day," he says. "Just thinking that you could have been there and the manner in which we went out. It's not nice.
"It was hard to take at the time and it still is. You always have those mental scars sometimes in football and, yeah, that's definitely one."
Watching France's struggles in the World Cup didn't help. "If you're going to cheat to get there, you might as well turn up," he quips.
All things considered, it's been a frustrating two years for McShane since that night in 2009. His situation at Hull has deteriorated, with relegation followed by limbo. He was sent out on loan last season, but was in the picture at the beginning of this season before injury struck.
He's only getting back to full fitness now and has returned to a spectating role at club level. News that boss Nigel Pearson is in talks with Leicester could potentially improve his situation, however.
McShane is one of the jokers in the Irish camp and the 25-year-old says he will try and lift morale this week even if he knows he won't be playing. "You can't be feeling sorry for yourself," he says. "You've just got to try and help the lads as much as you can."
So, any disappointment is kept to one side? "Yes," he smiles. "You just go back to your room and cry on your own."
A joke, of course, but he knows more than most that play-off pain can lead to genuine tears of frustration. This week is about experiencing a different range of emotions.