Friday 23 March 2018

Let's forgive warrior McShane for role in Henry handball

Paul McShane feels the force of Marouane Fellaini’s foul challenge in Hull’s draw with Manchester United
Paul McShane feels the force of Marouane Fellaini’s foul challenge in Hull’s draw with Manchester United

Donny Mahoney

It's hard to understand the vagaries of relegation. How do you pinpoint where a season is won and lost? Three points thrown away at Christmas are the same as three points lost in May.

Hull and about half the Ireland squad were condemned to the Championship on Sunday after a brave but ultimately futile home draw with Manchester United.

It was Hull's season in a nutshell: they threw the kitchen sink at United but the kitchen sink wasn't big enough. None of it mattered, because Newcastle won. Away days to Rotherham and Huddersfield await.

Hull's results have been desperate - two wins in two months, plus disappointing draws with QPR and Leicester. Whereas Newcastle, bar Jonas Gutierrez, seem like a squad of pampered babies, Hull always played with grit, a laudable trait when you are up against quality.

No man epitomised this better than Paul McShane. If Ireland did Lionhearts, McShane would ours. He was everywhere on Sunday, flinging all of himself into tackles and then hurling himself at corners like a centre forward of yore.

Marouane Fellaini's bit of clumsy thuggery only halted McShane temporarily, and the Belgian was rightly sent off. By the time McShane was back on his feet in a black headband, the die was cast at St James's Park.

It's been some journey for McShane. He was a walking meme for the first part of his career. His supporting actor role in the Thierry Henry handball has not been forgotten or forgiven by some Ireland fans, but it's time to praise McShane.

He is what all the game's soldiers aim to be: "an honest pro".


Before Christmas, when Hull were caught in another tailspin, McShane went public about his dissatisfaction about playing for the U-21s. Steve Bruce went ballistic, and froze out the Wicklow man for another month.

When Bruce brought McShane back to the fold in February for a trip to the Etihad, Hull drew 1-1 with Manchester City. McShane remained a fixture in the team until the bitter end.

The Premier League will miss Paul McShane. It needs characters like him.

Irish Independent

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