Tuesday 25 June 2019

'It's a ridiculous assessment of it' - Mick McCarthy frustrated by questions on Matt Doherty omission

Manager stands over his exclusion of Wolves star and hails Robinson

Matt Doherty of Republic of Ireland following the UEFA EURO2020 Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar at Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Matt Doherty of Republic of Ireland following the UEFA EURO2020 Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar at Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Mick McCarthy's Tuesday afternoon kicked off with a walk around the UL Sports Arena, taking in the atmosphere around a competition featuring stars of the future.

The Kennedy Cup is an institution in Irish schoolboy football and McCarthy was on hand to press the flesh with the FAI timing the Limerick launch of the National Football Exhibition around the event.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy in conversation with Noel Mooney, FAI General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships prior to the opening games of the Kennedy Cup last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy in conversation with Noel Mooney, FAI General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships prior to the opening games of the Kennedy Cup last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Interim FAI boss Noel Mooney, a local man, was on hand as part of the festivities.

So too was Eoin Hand, McCarthy's first Irish boss, who had been out of the FAI loop for some time after a falling-out with the previous hierarchy.

With jobs to do, McCarthy hadn't gotten around to watching a replay of Monday night's win over Gibraltar yet but asserted that his assessment remained the same. It was all about the bottom line result.

And the 60-year-old wasn't especially pleased when discussions at his debrief turned to the subject of a player who didn't get on the pitch.

Wolves star Matt Doherty did not see a minute of action in the games with Denmark and Gibraltar with captain Seamus Coleman preferred at right full-back and McCarthy reluctant to give the Dubliner another shot in a right wing berth.

McCarthy believes it's quite a straightforward debate, stressing that he remains a big admirer of Doherty having brought him to Wolves from Bohemians in 2010.

"It's a ridiculous assessment of it," said McCarthy, responding to a query which suggested that Doherty was the fall guy for Ireland's struggles against Gibraltar the first time around in March.

"In my opinion, Seamus is the best right-back. I think Matt is a fabulous right-back but, unfortunately for him, I think Seamus is a better one.

"At this moment in time why would I leave Seamus out? But it's always about someone who doesn't play. And the other thing about Seamus is, he's a fabulous personality and the captain of the team. It's just difficult, you know."

When it was put to McCarthy that he could have given the player another crack at right wing - Doherty had suggested he wanted to play next to Coleman again - the Barnsley man asked what was wrong with Callum Robinson's display in Monday's hard-fought 2-0 win over the minnows.

"Who do you think was the best player on the pitch?" he said, with a reference to Preston's Robinson. "Why not talk about him instead of putting Matt Doherty in that position? Callum Robinson is an attacker.

"Matt isn't an attacker, he's a right wing-back and he is a brilliant right wing-back for Wolves but unfortunately sometimes, the manager just thinks that there is somebody who is better in that position.

"I can't say anything other than that or give you any other reasons. I really love Matt Doherty. I signed him at Wolves, he's had a great career.

"But it (decision) is my preference. That's what it is and the manager has to have it. It's unfortunate."

"I don't think it's a great story, to be honest. It's just the way it is and there are other players who don't get in the team either who probably feel they should get a look-in."

McCarthy says he has been "fair and straight" with the players who spent up to three weeks with the group and then didn't feature.

He said he thanked them in front of the group on Monday night, before they sat down and had a beer together.

"If you see the interaction between the players that played and the players that didn't then you would understand how much they have enjoyed being in," he said. "But they all want to play."

It is clear, however, that the current fringe operators may have to be patient. McCarthy fielded questions on the issue of creativity and the ability of various players both inside and outside of the squad.

He needs to be convinced that Dutch-based Danny Crowley is better than the options he already has. Meanwhile, he's placed the ball in the court of the dithering Leeds attacker Patrick Bamford and is clearly sceptical about his reasons for stalling.

Troy Parrott might be a special talent for the longer term, but niggling injuries have prevented the Spurs star from making the case for shorter-term involvement.

Alan Judge is clearly prominent in McCarthy's thoughts as a potential game-breaker but the 30-year-old needs a clear run from injury and he would have started against Gibraltar were it not for the broken wrist he suffered in Copenhagen.

"We have what we have and I am absolutely delighted with them," he stressed.

McCarthy was happy with a draw in Denmark but is targeting a win from September's visit of Switzerland to Dublin.

Expect the tried and trusted to be central to that task.

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