Tuesday 17 September 2019

Martin O'Neill ponders call-up for Bohs 'keeper Shane Supple with his options limited by injuries

Bohemians goalkeeper Shane Supple. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Bohemians goalkeeper Shane Supple. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Daniel McDonell

Martin O'Neill is pondering a shock call-up for Bohemians netminder Shane Supple due to a shortage of goalkeeping options.

Injuries to Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood and Rob Elliot have limited his options. Bradford's Colin Doyle and Peterborough's Conor O'Malley shared duties in Celtic Park yesterday.

Manchester United reserve stopper Kieran O'Hara and Doncaster's Ian Lawlor are in the frame too.

O'Neill went to watch Bohemians play Dundalk on Friday and was struck by the performance of Supple (below) who turned his back on professional football when Roy Keane was Ipswich boss.

The 31-year-old came home in 2009 even though he was a first team player, but he had grown disillusioned.

He started playing GAA but was unable to dislodge Stephen Cluxton from the Dublin side and returned to football at an amateur level with Crumlin United in 2015. A year later, he signed for Bohs, where he is now first choice although he still plays GAA for St Brigid's when possible.

Supple is not a full-time professional and does some work with Bernard Brogan's agency Legacy Consultants as well as mentoring youth athletes with a company named aptOn.

"I have to say that the other night I thought that young Supple looks imposing as goalkeeper," said O'Neill, who raised the player's name.

"He looked half-decent. We've got the two keepers at this minute and a couple who are injured," continued O'Neill, when asked if Supple might be brought in to train ahead of the games with France and the USA. "So I'll have a think. But please, don't get carried away. I might have Buffon ready for it."

The Irish boss also gave a positive mention to Dundalk winger Michael Duffy who has indicated he would prefer to play for the Republic even though he was on the fringes of the Northern Ireland squad while at Celtic.

Player eligibility issues were on the agenda over the weekend with Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill confirming that Sean Scannell is ready to switch allegiance after failing to make a breakthrough with the Republic.

The FAI's O'Neill jokingly described the IFA's pursuit of the Huddersfield winger as 'ironic' given the recent furore over southern recruitment of northern-born players.

His opposite number had called on the FAI to agree not to go after players once they had played underage for Northern Ireland.

Scannell is English-born with a father from Armagh and he came through the Republic underage ranks before getting a senior call for Giovanni Trapattoni's first gathering in 2008. He failed to get a senior cap, however, and the recent period of his career has been blighted by injuries.

"That's his decision to make, I have not got a problem with that," said O'Neill. "If players think that they can go and that they have the wherewithal and the enthusiasm to change then that is fine."

O'Neill smiled when criticism of FAI policy was raised. Partick defender Niall Keown - a son of Martin and former Republic U-21 player - is also ready to follow in the footsteps of Scannell and Alex Bruce before him.

"It is topical and Keown has also declared so it seems to be going in the other direction," said O'Neill. "It is somewhat ironic."

Irish Independent

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