Matchday magic born on training ground
JAMES McCARTHY approaches media interviews with a straight bat and his assertion that his Irish team-mate Shane Long (right) bangs in goals in training on a daily basis similar to his superb brace against Aston Villa sounded like a safe line from the great big book of football cliches.
But one of the highlights of getting access to Irish sessions is seeing first hand the quality of strikes that players execute in training when the pressure is off.
Bringing it to a match situation is the challenge, so there was no fluke about Long's midlands derby efforts – he made it look easy because he's capable of doing it.
Marc Wilson is frequently a stand-out in Malahide with his technical confidence and ability to unleash a thunderbolt from distance.
Surprisingly, the Antrim man has scored just one goal for Stoke in 110 appearances.
Don't be surprised if that ratio dramatically improves if he is given more opportunities in central midfield in the coming years.