Injury rules out McPhail
SOCCER LATEST By PHILIP QUINN STEPHEN McPHAIL has been ruled out of Ireland's friendly international against the Czech Repbublic on...
STEPHEN McPHAIL has been ruled out of Ireland's friendly international against the Czech Repbublic on Wednesday.
Instead of joining Leeds United team-mates Gary Kelly and Ian Harte for a flight to Dublin after yesterday's Premiership blockbuster against Manchester United at Elland Road, McPhail, 20, stayed behind at Elland Road for treatment on a sciatica problem, which flared up in training last Thursday.
``It's a blow for Stephen as I planned to play him on Wednesday. It's of little consolation to him but there'll be plenty of more chances to come,'' said Irish manager Mick McCarthy last night.
McPhail is the third player to pull out of the squad, following the withdrawals of Rory Delap and Damien Duff. But at least Mark Kinsella is fit after returning to the Charlton first team on Saturday following injury.
Confronted by the world's second-ranked team, who are bringing a star-studded cast to Dublin including Nedved, Berger, Smicer and Poborsky, McCarthy intends to field his strongest possible team.
``It's a game for experienced players,'' he said.
``The Czechs may not have the same profile as France, Germany or England but they are one of the favourites for the European finals after winning all ten of their qualifying games.''
ALAN KELLY, who has experienced a roller-coaster ride since making his Republic of Ireland debut seven years ago, was flying high last night after his selection as the FAI Opel `Player of the Year.'
Kelly, 31, was chosen ahead of Robbie Keane and Mark Kinsella for his heroics in goal as Ireland pursued a Euro 2000 finals' place last autumn. In successive games against Yugoslavia, Croatia, Malta and, Macedonia, Kelly was in outstanding form.
Son of former Irish 'keeper, Alan `Jibber' Kelly, Alan seemed set for to a long unbroken run in the Irish team when he succeeded Packie Bonner after the '94 World Cup finals.
But untimely injuries, and the emergence of Shay Given, restricted his international appearances - he played in only six matches in the first three years of Mick McCarthy's management - before he reclaimed the No 1 jersey last year.
``We're blessed to have three world class 'keepers in Alan, Shay and Dean Kiely. I could play any one of them and not be worried. At the moment, Alan's first choice and he fully deserves this honour,'' said McCarthy.
Crumlin FC had cause for celebration as three of their former players picked up awards. Keane collected the Young/U-23 award ahead of Kevin Kilbane and Stephen Carr, Alan Mahon, who plays for Tranmere in the Worthington Cup final next Sunday, won the U-21, while Middlesbrough's Jason Gavin won the youths' award.
Billy Young, who led Bohemians to two League titles and the FAI Cup - they were also runners-up in the League five times and lost two Cup finals under his management received the special merit award.
AWARD WINNERS Senior: Alan Kelly (Blackburn). Young: Robbie Keane (Coventry).U-21: Alan Mahon (Tranmere). Youths: Jason Gavin (Middlesbrough). U-16: Andy Reid (Notts Forest). U-15: Richard McCarthy (Man City and Stella Maris). National League: Paul Osam (St Pat's). Intermediate: Jonathan King (Ashtown Villa). Junior: Gary McCormack (Portmarnock). Schools: Conor O'Grady (Sligo Rovers and Summerhill College). Women: Clare Scanlon (Troy State University). Girls U-18: Dolores Deasley (Letterkenny Rovers). Special Merit: Billy Young. Hall of Fame: 1949 Irish team (v England). Personality: Billy McNeill.