Tuesday 20 August 2019

Gardaí to investigate as Cyrus Christie left 'in tears' after abusive post-Denmark tweet

Republic of Ireland's Cyrus Christie. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland's Cyrus Christie. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

James McClean has revealed that Ireland team-mate Cyrus Christie was left in tears by social media abuse after the World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark.

The Derryman posted on Instagram in the aftermath of the devastating loss to say that some of the criticism aimed in the direction of the squad had gone over the top.

And he clarified his comments at Saturday's PFA Ireland awards, where he was on hand to pick up the Overseas Player of the Year award.

He did not name Christie, but said that an Irish colleague was seriously affected by a post-match social media message which suggested that he should go and play for Jamaica.

It has since emerged that Christie was the player in question and it's understood that the matter was referred to Gardaí by the FAI. The offending tweet directed at the Middlesbrough defender was still searchable on Twitter last night. It's unclear where the individual who posted the offensive message comes from.

"Some of the comments afterwards went beyond football," said McClean, "One player in particular was told to go and play for Jamaica. It really upset him.

James McClean. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
James McClean. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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"That's for a player who has been a good servant to his country and it cut deep. That player was in tears by the way. You've just missed out on the World Cup and then to have that..."

McClean said the group are still coming to terms with the heavy loss and vitriolic comments were making the process harder.

"We came so close, but yet it was so far," he said. "It's going to hurt for a long time. It was gutting for us, but it was more gutting when people put the boot in. Look, everyone has got their football opinions. Everybody watched the game and it was poor - we know that.

"We spoke about it (social media reaction) afterwards and it really got to a few players. It cut deep. People have short memories. Those players got us to the European Championships and within one game of a World Cup."

McClean offered strong backing to manager Martin O'Neill, who has also come in for strong criticism in the backlash.

He acknowledged that the manager had taken a half-time gamble by bringing in attacking subs Wes Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady, but said that he had to do something with Ireland chasing the game.

And he said that ultimate responsibility must lie with the players that were on the pitch.

"We've got a great manager that deserves a lot of credit. I hope he stays on," he said. "We all took our fair share of criticism, some more than others.

"The manager did a great job in getting us to the last 16 of the European Championships and into a World Cup play-off from a tough group.

Hindsight is a great thing. Maybe if we'd kept them two players on (David Meyler and Harry Arter) it might have been a better result, but we were 2-1 down and trying to get to a World Cup.

"The manager did what he thought was right and us as players should have responded to it, but we didn't. We were the ones on the pitch, we didn't do our jobs. It hurt and it's going to hurt for a long time.

"Maybe it was nerves, maybe they were just the better side. Maybe if I'd put my chance away when it was 1-0, it's a different game. It's a game of fine margins. We'll come back stronger. We've been written off before and we'll come back fighting."

Sean Maguire should be part of the next campaign. He was also present on Saturday after being voted player of the year by his peers after his excellent displays for Cork before moving to Preston and breaking into the Ireland squad.

Maguire is recuperating after tearing his hamstring off the bone, but the striker says that 2018 can be an even bigger year for him than 2017.

Irish Independent

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