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Meyler's GAA background an asset against costly megastars

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Meyler: 'When you play top teams it's still 11 v 11. There is no difference between him and me. Maybe it's because I come from a GAA background, where it's very much a case about you versus your man' Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Meyler: 'When you play top teams it's still 11 v 11. There is no difference between him and me. Maybe it's because I come from a GAA background, where it's very much a case about you versus your man' Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Meyler: 'When you play top teams it's still 11 v 11. There is no difference between him and me. Maybe it's because I come from a GAA background, where it's very much a case about you versus your man' Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

David Meyler is not intimidated by the big name opponents he will face in the Premier League after a cash-splash bonanza by the richest clubs in England.

Top grade midfielders such as Manchester United's Angel Di Maria (£59.7 million), Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea (£27 million), and Liverpool's Adam Lallana (£23 million) commanded huge fees and are expected to help their clubs deliver silverware.

Hull City's ambitions are more modest but that does not mean that Meyler feels inferior in any way to opponents, no matter how much they are worth in an inflated transfer market.

"When you play top teams it's still 11 v 11. There is no difference between him and me. Maybe it's because I come from a GAA background, where it's very much a case about you versus your man, making sure you get the better of him, and that he doesn't get the better of you," said Meyler.

The Cork man has more immediate issues closer to home this week as he challenges for a starting place in the Irish team to play Oman in tonight's friendly and then Georgia in the opening game of their Euro 2016 campaign in Tblisi on Sunday.

Competition in the Irish midfield is intense and Meyler can only put his best foot forward, literally and metaphorically, as Martin O'Neill prepares for the first competitive match of his tenure as Republic of Ireland manager.

Meyler has won eight caps to date, having made his debut two years ago in the friendly against Oman in London.

"I've got to kick on again. I've got to try and force my way into the team where I'm playing regularly all the time," he said.

"That's what I hope to do. It's not going to be easy because James (McCarthy) is playing fantastic and you've also got Darron Gibson who's back now from his injury. He looked very sharp this morning in training.

"Obviously there's Quinny (Stephen Quinn) who I play with regularly, and Glenn Whelan is there as well.

"It's going to be tough, but there's good competition and that's what every team needs. I'm looking forward to it," he added.

Meyler, 25, has happy memories of the Republic's last meeting with Oman.

"I don't think any man will forget the first time he plays for Ireland. I remember my debut for Sunderland, my debut for Hull, my first goal in the Premier League, my first goal in the FA Cup. Hopefully I'm due an Ireland goal sometime," he said.

Meyler is well hardened to the realities of English football now, five years after he was transferred from Cork City to Sunderland. He was signed by Hull last January and ended the season by playing in the FA Cup final against Arsenal, where he was by no means fazed.

Boyhood dream come true, you might assume, but that's not how Meyler, the professional, will remember the 3-2 defeat inflicted on Hull by the Gunners.

"It's a right bummer, a right kick in the teeth. To be 2-0 up, have a header cleared off the line which could have been three, then they score from a free-kick.

"Then we hold on for another 65 minutes, and Koscelny scores. Then we're holding out in extra time(109 mins) and Aaron Ramsey, man of the moment, pops up with the winner.

"It knocked the stuffing out of us, but life goes on," said Meyler.

That life includes improving his game, and Meyler hopes Roy Keane can help him there.

"He's had a wonderful career. If I can achieve half of what he achieved, I'll be doing well," said Meyler.

David Meyler was speaking yesterday at the eFlow FAI Summer Soccer Schools Golden Camp in Gannon Park, Malahide.

Irish Independent