Sunday 8 December 2019

Keane challenges matchwinner McGeady to build momentum

Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

PERHAPS it is because Aiden McGeady is so uncomfortable with the spotlight that his footballing ability has rarely sustained his place in it.

After delivering a result that rescued a shoddy Ireland display from what would have been a deeply disappointing draw against poor opponents, the Irish dressing-room, to a man, rose as one to offer him a standing ovation.

Even as the applause washed over him, he felt himself squirming; this is something that he's not used to. It is something Ireland need him to become more familiarly accustomed.

"It was a bit awkward when it happened, I didn't know how to react really. It was nice," says McGeady, who has now scored three times in eight games under his old club manager Martin O'Neill. He had scored just twice in his previous 62 games.

McGeady will never replicate a warrior's spirit on the field but this campaign must belatedly spark a consistency in his play that has been sorely lacking, as well as the ultimate currency of goals.

"Obviously! I've played well but not still what I'm capable of. I'm off to a great start, so is the team and hopefully I can build on it.

"I try not to think about it because it took so long before I scored my first goal. I was going into every game thinking, 'I need to score'. It's funny. When you don't think about it, it just happens.

"Obviously I want to score more. I've nearly doubled my goal tally for Ireland tonight. I know I need to score more, especially for Ireland. With Ireland I need to push on."

He credited James McCarthy's composure with the final pass and nice build-up from Jon Walters and Robbie Keane for his opener; the sizzling winner, though, was all his own work.

"It was all about concentrating on my touch. I had my back to the goal, I just thought I'd try something. It came off for me. It doesn't happen very often for me."

He needs that to change. "This could be a big campaign for Aiden," remarked his captain Robbie Keane (left). "He's experienced enough now to go on and help this team and be a big part of this squad.

"Maybe subconsciously there's a little bit of belief there from Martin," adds McGeady. "He has told me with the ability that I have, if I concentrated more or didn't mistakes, I could be up there with other players in Europe.

"Maybe he's just saying it but it can give you belief. He's always been like that, even at Celtic. I'm happy within myself."

So too was David Forde, who confirmed that O'Neill had assured him that he would open the campaign as Ireland's number one.

"The manager pulled me a few days ago and gave me a heads up, it just gives you a chance to go and prepare."

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