independent

Monday 21 April 2014

McShane fires Hull's Irish brigade into the big time

Hull City’s Robbie Brady, Alex Bruce, Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn celebrate promotion to the Premier League after yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Cardiff City

HULL CITY'S Irish contingent survived a nerve-tingling climax to their 2-2 draw with Cardiff and then had to watch a dramatic final seven minutes of Watford's desperate attempt to score against Leeds before their promotion to the Premier League was confirmed yesterday evening.

Paul McShane, David Meyler, Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn all started for Hull yesterday and there was further Irish interest in the shape of manager Steve Bruce's son, Alex, who was on the bench.

The five can all look forward to playing against the big boys come August, but it was touch and go as Bruce revealed later that some of his squad were so nervous they were "hiding in toilets" as a dramatic last day of the Championship unfolded.

The Tigers, who had looked like blowing promotion with a run of poor results in recent weeks, had trailed to a goal by substitute Fraizer Campbell four minutes after the break. "I thought it was over and was thinking of the play-offs," said McShane. "I couldn't have written this better. We made it hard but we saved the best until the last day."

Nick Proschwitz, a half-time substitute, guided the ball home from a cross by Quinn with 57 minutes gone and three minutes later McShane got his foot to a Robbie Brady corner to steer the ball home from close range.

Cardiff, already promoted, were reduced to 10 men when Andrew Taylor elbowed Ahmed Elmohamady in the closing minutes but the drama was not over. Hull fans ran on to the pitch when referee Keith Stroud awarded a late penalty for Ben Nugent's push on Meyler but David Marshall saved Proschwitz's spot kick.

Cardiff immediately went down to the other end and made it 2-2 when Abdoulaye Faye handled and Nicky Maynard sent David Stockdale the wrong way from the spot.

At the time, Watford were level with Leeds and would have gone up with a winner. But Ross McCormack's injury-time lob gave Leeds a 2-1 win.

"I have been around the block and this was wonderful entertainment, but Jesus Christ, it's put us through the ringer," said Hull boss Bruce.

"Overall we deserved it. The ref gave them an unbelievable decision to give Cardiff a penalty but it's our day. I would like to say well done to Watford who pushed us all the way. It took guts for us, they rolled their sleeves up and have put in a real shift.

"We had heard Watford were 2-0 up and they weren't – we could have put it to bed. How many chances have we had? We had a penalty and missed it. This is totally ridiculous. I have said for weeks there would be twists and turns. I have never experienced anything like the last 10 or 15 minutes.

"I don't think I've ever been supporting Leeds but wow, for Leeds United to do it for me is remarkable," added Bruce.

As a result of the dramatic finale, Watford must be content with the play-offs after a game which saw them lose Jonathan Bond, who himself had replaced Manuel Almunia before kick-off, to a neck injury which required hospital treatment.

Bond, who had come in as a late replacement for first-choice Almunia after he injured a hamstring in the warm-up, was hurt in an accidental collision with team-mate Ikechi Anya.

In contrast to the delight of the Irish contingent at Hull, it was heartbreak for another group of Irish players as Wolves were relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1989.

Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt and Stephen Ward were in the squad beaten 2-0 away to Brighton.

Peterborough were relegated after losing 3-2 at Crystal Palace, a win which secured Palace a play-off spot.

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