Thursday 23 March 2017

McShane eyes full-time role as Irish skipper

Paul McShane gets ready for training in Liege yesterday ahead of tonight's friendly against Italy in which he will captain the team. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile
Paul McShane gets ready for training in Liege yesterday ahead of tonight's friendly against Italy in which he will captain the team. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile

Daniel McDonnell , in Liege

Paul McShane will captain Ireland for the first time this evening, with memories of his late father, Sean, fresh in his mind.

The Hull defender leads a makeshift Irish side into battle with Italy just 48 hours after a golf classic at Druids Glen in honour of his dad, who passed away in March of last year.

He admits that he will be thinking of Sean this evening, although he joked that the ardent Dubs fan might have been more interested in events at Croke Park on Sunday.

"I think he'd be more buzzing over that," quipped McShane. "My dad was a major influence on my life. Since I was very young, he'd come to every game. He was always there for me, so, hopefully, he's looking down on me. I'm sure he would be very proud.

"It was such a shock (when he died) that it takes a lot of time to get over. It was quite emotional on Sunday -- my mum, my sister and my brother were there. And it was great to see so many of the lads there as well. He was quite an admired man in the local area, so there were a lot of people from there as well."

The golf day raised money for the Newtown GAA club and St Joseph's Autism Centre in Newtownmountkennedy, and there was fierce competition between the Irish players who teed up.

McShane reported that he nailed his first drive, but was less complimentary about the golfing prowess of his pal Stephen Hunt.

"He took it very seriously," said McShane. "The first hole, Hunty stepped up -- he thought he'd cream it, but it went off into the ditches. It's on video, so there could be an auction for it."

On a more serious note, though, the 25-year-old doesn't want to let the honour of wearing the armband pass him by.

He has ambitions of taking the role on a full-time basis one day, although he is aware that he will need improvement in his club situation. It's likely he will move on from Hull this summer, so any shop window opportunity like this is appreciated.

The much maligned right-back turned in one of his best Irish performances against Scotland last Sunday week and hopes to lead by example here.

"I was captain at Greystones in my schoolboy days, and captained Man United in the Youth Cup and Man United reserves as well, but at senior level, I haven't that much experience. But I suppose being at a young age, there wouldn't be many captains my age.

permanent

"One of my aims in my career is to captain my country and hopefully one day I want to be permanent captain.

"I am very determined. I've got a lot of desire which hopefully rubs off on people and, hopefully, I lead by example. That's the way I approach things and you have to do the action on the pitch and I will give everything I've got."

Naturally, as a kid growing up in the background at Old Trafford, he was influenced by a certain individual from Cork.

"Roy Keane was an amazing captain for Man U. He was such a presence around the place and I think that as captain he was probably one of the best."

Certainly, McShane has no shortage of belief, and is urging an understrength Irish team to think they can secure an unlikely success in Belgium.

"You have to go into every game and believe," he stressed.

Irish Independent

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