'It’s great for the players' - Coleman feels country is behind Irish team after trip to watch Donegal
A Saturday evening visit to a GAA heartland has convinced Ireland captain Seamus Coleman that the country's faith in his Irish team's Euro 2020 qualification hopes are growing as they prepare to face minnows Gibraltar in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow night.
Fresh from Ireland's gritty draw in Copenhagen, the Killybegs man, who started his career as a Gaelic Footballer, made the 90-minute dash from Dublin Airport to Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan to support his beloved Tir Conaill men.
And aside from cheering on Declan Bonner's side to a surprised but deserved Ulster semi-final victory against Tyrone, Coleman was also buoyed by the reaction of the hordes of supporters to Ireland's draw against Denmark, which maintained their unbeaten start to qualifying.
"Very much so, yeah. The people of Donegal and the people of Tyrone were very proud of the team and thanked me and thanked the lads for the result," he said.
"They were very happy to see that ball go in and they were very proud.
"I’m not just saying that so that’s good that the country is behind us.
"It’s great for the players to realise that as well, because when we are out there we do think of the fans as well."
Coleman hopes the Donegal men can build on their effervescent display as they seek to maintain their own momentum this summer.
"I’m glad I asked the manager’s permission before I went! I’m sure he would have found out by now!
"It was great to go and thankfully the manager let me pop out for a couple of hours. It was great to see Donegal winning and play so well.
"Hopefully they can get that Ulster title again this year and go from there.
"I thought they were very dangerous going forward. My own club man, Eoghan 'Bán' Gallagher, I thought he did very well and Jason Mcgee is a very good player.
"So they’ve got good players all over the pitch and hopefully they can win the final."
And Coleman hopes his Irish team can make it a double Donegal celebration by completing a satisfactory weekend of qualifying too.
"We hope to put in a good performance tomorrow," he added.
"That’s what we’ve been trying to do since the manager has come in.
"Against Georgia we pressed them and tried to win the ball back as high up the pitch as we could, and then play from there. At times we did that very well against Georgia.
"Especially when we were 1-0 down against Denmark we played some really good football, so we are capable of it.
"We are playing at home in front of our fans, so the result is the most important thing, but of course we want to get the ball down and put on a performance."
Mick McCarthy confirmed he is reluctant to make wholesale changes but did admit that West Ham youngster Josh Cullen continues to push hard for inclusion.
Midfielder Cullen, an England underage international before switching allegiance, is currently uncapped and a competitive appearance would copper-fasten his status.
"Josh has been excellent and he's made a valid case to get a game but then you could argue that of the midfield players, Glenn Whelan has been excellent, Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick scored winners.
"But making a case for him is fine. I think he's impressed everybody. They should all be sticking their hand up. I don't get the sense that there should be wholesale changes when the lads have won two games. We've got to beat these."
Coleman has been impressed with Cullen.
"He's very brave, he wants to get on the ball and keep it ticking over. He wants to win it back and pass it forward; he's a great lad around the camp and a really good player."