Tuesday 19 March 2019

Daniel McDonnell: 'Crowley call more likely to benefit Kenny than McCarthy'


Daniel Crowley during his time with Go Ahead Eagles. Photo: Getty Images
Daniel Crowley during his time with Go Ahead Eagles. Photo: Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The news that Daniel Crowley has opted to declare for Ireland ahead of England cannot really be declared as a victory because there's no suggestion that the Netherlands-based playmaker had a decision to make.

In his youth, the prodigiously talented Coventry native was courted by Ireland and England with his profile soaring following his move from Aston Villa to Arsenal.

He was described as the next Jack Wilshere at a point where that was the ultimate compliment. Wilshere spoke favourably about the rising star whose skills attracted YouTube hits.

There were people close to Crowley's family that were always adamant that Ireland was his preference, yet he did play the game by trying out both nations.

He said this week that he never owned an English kit as a child, yet he did wear one more than 20 times at representative level.

If he was thriving with a team placed 12th in the Premier League - and not a Willem II side placed 12th in the Eredivisie - then he might have had to cope with other factors and pressures when reaching a final decision on his international future.

Crowley has spoken in negative terms about his experiences in the English camp, stating last year that 'you are not allowed an opinion for England. If you do, you are seen to have a bad attitude.'

However, a 2015 meeting between Crowley and Martin O'Neill left the latter with some doubts about the tyro. He was asked about Crowley in his final months in the job, and responded by making reference to the player's confidence. He left the impression that it wasn't a good kind of confidence, in his opinion.

Still, there is no doubting Crowley's potential. He has taken assertive action by declaring for Ireland without any suggestion that he was nudged that way by any promises. There is no turning back now he has set the paper chain in motion. Only Ireland can pick him now.

That registration process takes time, so it's of no relevance to Mick McCarthy with a view to his opening double-header in March.

The nature of his brief means that the stakes will be high for every international gathering this year. Crowley will have his work cut out to force his way into the plans. There will also be some doubts about the level he's operating at.

After all, Jack Byrne and Dutch-born Barry Maguire thrived in the Netherlands in their younger years, but struggled elsewhere.

Granted, Byrne is still only 22 and his Dutch experience consisted of a one-season spell whereas Crowley has been there for two years and has signed a long-term deal with Willem II.

More pertinent is the fact that the deployment of a creative player such as Crowley would take time and a bit of patience from a manager.


Managers were slow to trust Wes Hoolahan at international level because of their perceptions of his size and style - even when he was doing it in Premier League company. It would take a leap of faith for McCarthy to trust Crowley on the basis of where he's at right now.

Therefore, it's more plausible that his declaration will be of more relevance to Stephen Kenny.

He would doubtless endorse comments from Crowley about why he abandoned the lower leagues of England and went to Europe, believing it would suit him.

Kenny has implored Irish players who like to express themselves to travel further and find a place where they can hone their talents; as Dundalk boss, he also tackled the suggestion that a player's success in the English ladder was a true measure of their ability.

"Have you seen some of the games there and the way that the game is played?" he said last October, with a nod to Patrick McEleney's Oldham struggles. "There is no relevance to international football."

Kenny likes players who are brave on the ball and it wouldn't be a surprise if he took a trip to the Netherlands to watch Crowley in action. That's a relationship that could hit the ground running.

Irish Independent

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