Tuesday 17 September 2019

We've proved 'our own' people wrong - James McClean slams critics


James McClean celebrates scoring Ireland's winner against Wales. Photo: PA
James McClean celebrates scoring Ireland's winner against Wales. Photo: PA
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

James McClean says the negative media mood after Ireland's struggles in September made the joyous dressing room scenes after Monday's win in Cardiff all the sweeter.

The Derryman noted the downbeat reaction to a one-point return from the key games with Georgia and Serbia.

And the matchwinner in the famous success over Wales admitted that was in his mind as Martin O'Neill's players celebrated the victory that has kept them in contention to make next summer's World Cup.

"We were out," said McClean, who was speaking on Newstalk's Off The Ball last night. "A couple went back to Dublin and most went off to their clubs, so we just kind of parted ways. But a few of the lads had a beer in the dressing room.

"It was a nice feeling to prove a lot of people wrong. It was kind of an added bonus on top of everything else. You wrote us off, our own people, our own media wrote us off. This one is for you.

"We went there, we did a job, we did a great job. So I think we celebrated fittingly. Like I said, we have two massive games coming up against whoever we get. But on the night we rightly deserved the win and how we celebrated was special."

McClean is looking forward to the excitement of November although it's a time of the year where he tends to come under scrutiny in England because of his refusal to wear the poppy on his shirt.

The Derryman has articulated his reasons before and says the abuse no longer irks him.

"It is the reality of football," he said. "If you let it get to you it could break you down. But it happens not just to me but to everyone. Everyone wants to build you up so they can break you down. But in terms of the other (poppy) stuff, I've said and done all I've had to do with it."

One player who will be available for those play-offs is Robbie Brady after he escaped punishment for a minor clash with Ashley Williams in Cardiff.

FIFA looked into a second-half incident where Brady nudged his head into the back of the Welshman after a coming-together between the duo.

The authorities collated evidence and looked at the various angles and have decided against taking any further action against the Dubliner.

In the Irish camp there was quiet confidence that Brady would be cleared and that scenario has come to pass.

Martin O'Neill is already planning without Seamus Coleman and Jon Walters for the crunch games with David Meyler suspended for the first match.

Walters' manager at Burnley Sean Dyche has said that the player could be weeks away from a comeback as they wait for a knee problem to settle down.

But O'Neill said earlier this week that he didn't envisage the veteran striker being available.

The FAI yesterday announced that tickets for the home leg of the play-off would go on public sale next Friday.

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