Sunday 18 March 2018

Analyse this - Seamus Coleman will spend the night with his videos

Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Miguel Delaney

After dinner tonight, Seamus Coleman will open his laptop, and start properly studying the clips made available to him by video analyst Ger Dunne.

Unlike so many others around the squad - and so many others in the country - he won't be focusing on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He arguably has a more important job. He will be focusing on the man who most supplies the Swedish captain, and has the best understanding with him: the left-winger Emil Forsberg.

"We have done work on Sweden," Coleman says, as he sits in a dressing room at Ireland's main base in the quaint Stade Montbauron. "Ger has a site you can use if you want to. Some lads aren't into that, and some are. You can basically get whatever game you want. I like to do my work on my individual player the night before the game. It can only help."

It certainly helps, however, that Coleman has faced much better players than the Leipzig winger. The 27-year-old obviously isn't stating that, but the inference can be taken. "In the Premier League, you're playing against top players week in, week out, and he's another one. I'll not get too bogged down by him," he adds.

That is encouraging, because Ireland should not get too bogged down by Sweden either. In some ways, Coleman personifies the balancing for Ireland in this game. He is almost literally the last line of defence before Zlatan, in that he'll be blocking off Forsberg, but also one of the team's main attacking threats with his running down the right. Coleman, at least, is not one of those talking about how it's just important to avoid defeat. He wants a win, and you can sense his desire to ultimately go for it.

"I am an attacking full-back and I like to get forward when I can," he says. "But this is a major tournament and it is not about my getting crosses in and maybe leaving the back door open, it is about me making sure I am defending first, - then, as the game goes on, hopefully my attacking play will come into it."

Coleman maybe has a keener sense of what this all means, too. As a self-confessed "home bird", he doesn't go to the usual football spots on holiday, but instead heads home for Killybegs. He doesn't even fly there either, and for a rather endearing reason.

"As soon as the season finishes I pack up and get the ferry from Holyhead," he says. "It's my favourite drive of the year. I love it. Ever since I moved over, I've just liked doing the drive home, knowing I'm going home for the summer.

"I'm very proud of where I'm from. I've said from day one when I moved that, all going well, I'll come back home eventually. Once my career is over I want to come home and live in Killybegs, live by the Gaelic club and live by the soccer club again. I do miss that side of things. Obviously, I love my time in England - but I'm a home bird."

He also loves his team, talking about them in a more gushing manner than others - and in a way that Roy Keane joked was "a bit extreme" when he heard.

"They are great lads. You could trust them with your life. Say if you make a mistake. For instance if Jonny Walters is in front of you he is going to break his back to get back for you. Shane Long will make a bad ball into a good ball - and that is all important."

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