'Written off' Richard Dunne close to last shot at top flight
Richard Dunne is 90 minutes away from what could be his last shot at the Premier League after a magnificent performance in QPR's dramatic play-off semi-final win over Wigan on Monday.
Dunne's old Ireland pals Shay Given and Kevin Kilbane led the plaudits for his contribution to a 2-1 victory after extra-time to break the hearts of a Wigan group that included James McClean and young defender Rob Kiernan.
The big defender admitted recently that he's in the winter of his career but a clause in his contract guaranteed him another year with QPR. They will take on Derby County on May 24 for a place in the top flight. Dunne is grateful for the opportunity after the pre-season promotion favourites floundered in the second half of the campaign.
"We've let ourselves down in the full season and this is our second chance," said Dunne, who turns 35 in September. "We want to be back in the Premier League and it's so important to get to Wembley.
"It was a very tough tie and a great battle, we all wanted it so badly. It's unfortunate for Wigan as they were brilliant on the night."
QPR boss Harry Redknapp said that his well-paid squad showed their character, citing Dunne's comeback from a year of injuries that finished his time with Aston Villa. "Lots of players had been written off," said Redknapp. "Richard hadn't played for a year and we took a gamble on him."
Kevin Doyle, who is on loan from Wolves, was also part of the QPR starting team and will battle with Bobby Zamora for a place in the final XI after the latter made a big impact after being introduced as a sub.
Doyle started on the right but was moved up front to cope with an unusual Wigan tactical strategy which featured McClean as a striker.
McClean made a big contribution and set up a goal for James Perch but squandered a second-half opportunity that would have put Uwe Rosler's charges two goals ahead.
The Derry man vented frustration at internet critics in the hours after the final whistle. "It's easy to be the best player in the world watching, there's a reason why you're watching or have yous not realised that?" he said.
However, he praised the majority of fans for their support yesterday. "Not the ending we all wanted," he wrote. "But massive thanks to all the fans for their support and dedication bar one or two idiots."
McClean has been in and out of Rosler's side, and didn't even make the squad for the Wembley FA cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal.