Wednesday 17 January 2018

King in for long haul to restore U-21 pride

Neil Ahern

NOEL KING believes it will take more than just one game to undo the damage done to Ireland’s U-21 team over recent years.

Tonight’s match against Estonia in Tallaght – King’s first in charge – is meaningless for Ireland in terms of qualification for the 2011 European Championships to be held in Denmark, as they sit bottom of Group 2, behind Switzerland, Turkey, Estonia, Armenia and Georgia.

However, King is keen to make a winning start as he bids to turn things around after Don Givens’ disastrous reign. He believes, however, it will take more than just one victory to convince the Irish fans that his team is worth following again.


“You have to build and show people that you’re serious about it. I think we have to make gradual progression. I don’t think people will be dancing if we beat Estonia,” said King. “I will and the players will but I don’t think the Irish football world will be joining in. They will wait and see. It’s like anything – you have to build it and make people feel a part of it.”

King insisted he will start with a clean slate despite the disappointment of the campaign so far.

“It starts for me today. I’m starting fresh and every player starts fresh. Anything that happened in the past is in the past. I’ve no comment to make, good bad or indifferent, on the previous regime.”

The former Ireland women’s boss, who has a strong squad at his disposal, including full internationals James McCarthy, Cillian Sheridan and Anthony Stokes, added: “Getting six players in two nights before the game isn’t ideal preparation, but I’m not moaning because you have to find a way around it.”

Owen Garvan, who will captain Ireland tonight, believes he and his team-mates are on a mission to restore some pride. “I know Estonia have a lot to play for – they’re third in the group – but so have we. We have a lot of pride to get back into the team,” said the Crystal Palace midfielder.

“Hopefully the results will change. We had a lot of draws in this campaign and we just need to turn those into wins. I think when any new manager comes in, everyone tries to do well and show him that you’re a good player. Hopefully we can show Noel that we’re good players and we can do better in years to come.”

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