Euro 2012 agony for McCarthy after he pulls out of squad due to father's illness
MIDFIELDER James McCarthy last night spoke of his "very difficult" decision to withdraw from Ireland's Euro 2012 squad after his father was diagnosed with cancer.
The Wigan midfielder made the agonising decision at a time when his form in the Premier League has been superb in recent weeks.
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni explained that the player asked to be withdrawn from consideration for selection after his father, Willie, fell ill.
The manager named his 23-man squad at Lansdowne Road yesterday.
The 21-year Wigan star said: "I have made the very difficult decision to withdraw my name from selection from the Euro 2012 squad following the diagnosis of my father with cancer and an ongoing requirement for treatment."
He added he wished to take the opportunity to reaffirm his "complete commitment to playing for the Republic of Ireland".
"I would like to wish the manager and my teammates every success at the tournament and hope that Irish fans can understand the reason for my decision at this difficult time," he said.
Mr McCarthy was born and raised in Glasgow.
However, he was eligible to qualify for the Republic through his late grandfather, Packie Coll, who was from Gweedore in Co Donegal.
Mr McCarthy reportedly made a promise to him shortly before he died that he would play for Ireland.
But there was speculation he might play for Scotland before Mr Trapattoni called him up to the Irish squad in March of last year.
He has three caps.
It is understood Mr Trapattoni spoke to Mr McCarthy last week and said the midfielder told him he was not ready "psychologically" and preferred to stay at home.
The manager said Mr McCarthy would have been in the squad, but refused to say who benefited from his absence.
Meanwhile, Sunderland star James McClean said he felt "absolutely honoured" and could not be happier after being selected in the squad.
"No better feelin!" he wrote on the social networking site Twitter.
His proud parents were last night celebrating his inclusion in the Euro squad.
Patrick and Shauna McClean were joined by close friends and family in their local pub in Derry's Creggan Heights.
"As parents, we are the proudest people at the minute," Mr McClean told the Irish Independent last night.
"I've played and followed football all my life and I've watched Ireland play in the World Cup and in the Euros and now my son is there, so it's unbelievable," he added.
Although surprised at how quick his son has rose to prominence since his £350,000 (€430,000) transfer from Derry City to Sunderland last August, he said he was always confident that he would be on the plane bound for Poland next month.
"I never doubted he would be there," he said.
"We never thought he wouldn't make it given his performances with Sunderland but we didn't want to be too sure of ourselves until he got the call," he added.
Growing up as one of six children, his parents claim the 23-year-old teetotaller was always level-headed and focused totally on his football career.
"James set his stall out when he was younger and told me he was going to make it as a footballer.
"And now he has the chance to play against Spain and Italy and it doesn't get much better than that," said Mr McClean.
The proud dad said he and his son, Patrick, have arranged to travel to Poland now that James is in the squad.
"There's no way I would miss my son playing in the European Championships and while his mum won't fly, she'll watch it on TV with the rest of the family."