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Tuesday November 21, 2017

Bolton says he is indebted to Kieran McGeeney

courtesy of RTE

Recently retired Kildare player Emmet Bolton has praised former Lilywhites’ boss Kieran McGeeney for the impact he had on his career and also on football in the county.

The 31-year-old played under the Armagh man throughout his six-year tenure as Kildare manager and he credits McGeeney for developing him as a player.

“I remember the first meeting he came in and told us exactly what the whole country thought of us,” Bolton told the RTÉ Sport GAA Podcast.

“He said we were soft and he was right. We thought we were training hard but he showed us how to train hard.

“He gave us that belief. He was a very good man manger we bought into what he said; even if he was bringing us in the wrong direction we would have followed him.

McGeeney departed Kildare in 2013 after losing a ballot by county delegates by one vote.

Although they failed to win a Leinster title or claim the Sam Maguire during the Armagh man’s time as manager they did reach the All-Ireland quarter-final stage on five occasions and also made a semi-final appearance.

 

Bolton said: “He was loyal to a fault and it showed in his last year when the clubs voted him out, he put his name forward knowing that was going to happen. What he brought to Kildare football was unprecedented.

“The public perception out there is probably the total opposite to what he is like, he is very approachable, on a personal level if you had any issues at all he would have been the first fellah to help you out.

“What he did for Kildare football was fantastic for us in terms of developing the younger guys and from a personal point of view how he helped me develop as a footballer.

 

McGeeney is now in charge of Armagh
“I’m indebted to him and I feel very lucky and so do the other guys to have been involved with him. He was effectively a Kildare man by the end of it and in terms of gratitude we couldn’t thank him enough.”

Bolton holds the record as the highest scoring defender in football championship with 5 Goals and 33 Points in 57 championship appearances.

“Over my earlier career in Under-16 and minors I played in the forwards so that instinct was there, then at Kildare Under-21 I was brought in wing back,” he said.

“When Kieran came on the scene he was able to develop me further as a footballer, it was his game plan, he liked attacking wing backs.

“There was a big trust there and the fact that I had Eamonn O’Callaghan and Paudie O’Neill or James Kavanagh there, someone in a wing-forward position in front of me that tucked in.

“I had that trust there, I knew if I went forward, I knew I was going to be covered and vice versa.

“The big thing is to have that trust and I was lucky to get on the end of the scores. Once the team got the scores that was all that mattered. I really enjoyed it.”

Improved Ireland go down fighting in Perth

courtesy of RTE

Australia 53-50 Ireland – 116-103 on aggregate

Ireland threatened a comeback in the second Test of the International Rules series but a strong finish saw Australia claim the Cormac McAnallen trophy.

Gary Brennan and Chris Barrett scored goals in the first quarter to give Ireland the lead, but no goals followed for either side in the remainder of the game.

The home side looked fitter and stronger in the second half as they whittled down the Irish advantage in a physical game played at a strong pace.

Conor McManus was an impressive peformer for Ireland but Nat Fyfe’s ball-winning skills aided Australia as the dominated the final quarter to make it two wins from the two games.

 

It was the start Ireland needed as Aidan O’Shea, who continually was in phyiscal confrontations throughout the game, fed Brennan to shoot into the net from close range.

The second goal followed two minutes later this time the Clare man fed Barrett to notch and the visitors were in front overall in the series.

Ireland led 30-17 at the break and a black card for Joel Selwood was followed by an altercation between both squadss after the half-time hooter.

Thirteen changes for Ireland ahead of Fiji test

courtesy of RTE

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has retained just two of the players that blew South Africa away last weekend for Saturday’s second Guinness Series test against Fiji at the Aviva Stadium.

As expected, Schmidt has gone for an almost complete overhaul, giving younger and emerging players their chance to shine against the Fijians.

Only Andrew Conway and Devin Toner keep their place – Conway moving from the wing to full-back and Toner continuing in the second row.

Chris Farrell is the only Test debutant in the team, the 24-year-old Ulster man taking his place in the centre alongside Stuart McCloskey, who wins his second cap.

Darren Sweetnam, who impressed as a substitute in the win against the Springboks, earns his first start while tighthead Andrew Porter will be picking up just his third cap.

The experienced Dave Kearney returns to the wing, with Joey Carbery and Kieran Marmion forming the half-back combination.

Jack McGrath and Rob Herring, who also had a strong showing as a replacement against the Boks, will pack down in the front row alongside Porter. Connacht’s Ultan Dillane will offer further line-out options in the second row beside Toner.

The team will be captained by Rhys Ruddock, with Jordi Murphy and Jack Conan the other backrow forwards for the Fiji game, which kicks-off at 5.30.

On the bench there is a mixture of youth and experience, with relative newcomers such as James Tracy and Kieran Tredwell alongside seasoned campaigners such as Cian Healy and Robbie Henshaw.

Ireland hammered South Africa by a record 38-3 last weekend and after Fiji they take on Argentina in the last of the three-test series.

Ireland v Fiji: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Chris Farrell, Stuart McCloskey, Dave Kearney; Joey Carbery, Kieran Marmion; Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter; Ultan Dillane, Devin Toner; Rhys Ruddock (c), Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan

Replacements: James Tracy, Cian Healy, Tadgh Furlong, Kieran Treadwell, CJ Stander, Luke McGrath, Ian Keatley, Robbie Henshaw.

Live coverage of Ireland v Fiji begins on Saturday on RTÉ 2 television and RTÉ Player at 4.30. Live commentary is on RTÉ Radio 1’s Saturday Sport, which starts at 2.45, and you can follow all of the build-up and action on our live blog online at rté.ie/sport and on the News Now app.

Ireland v Denmark: Goal-shy Ireland need hero to step up

courtesy of RTE

There was a total contrast inside the Parken Stadium within the space of two hours; the spine tingling and uplifting atmosphere that greeted the home side as they entered the arena was replaced by downbeat and borderline disgust volleyed at those same players as the team traipsed off following the 0-0 draw in Copenhagen.

Player performances were scrutinised while the manager was criticised for his approach to the match against Ireland.

The Irish team, conversely, were clapped and cheered throughout by the travelling faithful, some players even posing for selfies with the front-row supporters, perfectly positioned close to the players’ tunnel.

But leaving loyalties aside for a moment, the Danish reaction must beg a serious question of what their supporters and media expect from their team.

Age Hareide’s side took the game to Ireland from the start and bossed the match, virtually unchallenged right until the mad minute before half-time when Cyrus Christie almost gave Ireland a shock lead.

Denmark were in total control. The midfield three of Christian Eriksen, Thomas Delaney and William Kvist were running the show as their Irish equivalents were chasing shadows, unable to get a foothold in the game.

 

Adding to the Danish attack, Jens Larsen was causing real problems up the left flank, while even captain Simon Kjaer was pushing forward from his centre-half position, creating attacking options for the home side.

The chances, as expected, arrived and were only thwarted by an in-form Ireland keeper as Darren Randolph saved first from Larsen and then Andreas Cornelius.

On any other day, Pione Sisto would have stuck that rebounding Eriksen effort into the back of the net.

Denmark should have been in cruise control by the time that the Irish team did manage to get into the game 15 minutes into the second half.

 

The home coach’s only real mistake of the game thus far was probably starting with two target men up front leading the Danish attack.

Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark relish such challenges and were rarely threatened by either Cornelius or Nicolai Jorgensen, despite both big men showing good touches on the ball, linking well with playmaker Eriksen sitting in behind.

And the manager’s mistake was emphasised when he finally threw Yussuf Poulsen into the mix, the RB Leipzig man causing immediate concern in the Irish defence, a trend which continued until the last minute when it was Poulsen himself who was denied by yet another Randolph save.

So when Martin O’Neill was asked at the pre-match press conference whether Ireland enjoyed a psychological advantage over the Danish going into the Dublin decider at the Aviva tonight, the manager was correct in his assessment that Denmark should have every right to feel optimistic about their chances of reaching the World Cup.

“No I don’t think they’re damaged at all,” said O’Neill. “Their manager said beforehand that if they come out with a 0-0, he wasn’t concerned about going away from home.

“I think Denmark will feel they are capable of doing that. I don’t think they are psychologically damaged in any way.”

If Denmark are in the right frame of mind, they can take a similar approach to this game and taking on a more attack-minded Ireland should suit their style, as they should be able to find a bit more space going forward.

Of course, they will certainly know that they are going to have to fight for everything if they are going to get through to the World Cup.

And Delaney’s comments about Ireland and the tin of beans shows that the Irish style has certainly got inside their heads.

A positive start for Ireland might break the Danish spirit but their experienced players should see them fight this one out until the death.

Denmark XI (possible): Kasper Schmeichel; Peter Ankersen, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Bjelland, Jens Larsen; Thomas Delaney, William Kvist, Christian Eriksen, Pione Sisto; Andreas Cornelius, Yussuf Poulsen.

 

Goal concern for Irish World Cup hopes

The Ireland manager knows that his goal led a charmed life on Saturday night and the realist in O’Neill would accept that there is a very good chance that Denmark will score tonight.

His stingy defensive four and keeper Randolph might have something to say about that, but if Denmark do manage to hit the back of the net at any stage of the contest, it will mean that Ireland will need to score at least two goals to progress.

Ireland played five times at home in the qualifying campaign yet only managed four goals, three of which came against Moldova and Georgia.

So, in essence, Ireland scored once in the three big games against Serbia, Wales and Austria, and that should be a real concern.

O’Neill again spoke of his lack of a natural goalscorer but the manager surely expected goals to come from other areas of the pitch throughout the campaign.

“You have to treat the game on its own merits,” said O’Neill. “You can’t look at the past now and say well we didn’t do this, and we didn’t do that.

“Some of the games we might have scored more goals but we’re not prolific.

“We have to find the net and we think we’re capable of doing it. It won’t be easy and it’s a tough match for us, a really tough game. ”

 

No set-piece joy despite firm focus

The Ireland manager places enormous importance on the set-piece aspect of the game and spends lots of time working on both attacking free-kick and corner strategies as well as defending opposition efforts.

So it must bemuse him that Ireland have yet to score a goal from a set-piece throughout the entire campaign, considering Robbie Brady’s ability to deliver the perfect ball and the fact that players like Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark always pose a threat in the opposing penalty box.

O’Neill could not offer any explanation as to why Ireland have yet to be rewarded, other than stating that other teams work on set-pieces as well.

“The whole idea of taking set pieces is that you are in control when you’re taking them and you’re in less control when they are being forced against you.

“We might have a plan to score a goal and one to try not concede from a set piece but the other teams are doing exactly the same.

“The best teams in the country don’t score from every set-piece, the best teams in the country concede goals from them. So there are two elements to it.

“We’ll try to be a little bit better if we can but, as I mentioned, we’re not prolific goalscorers. But we have to find the net and maybe a couple of times.”

Hendrick on course to be fit to face Denmark

courtesy of RTE

Jeff Hendrick has handed Martin O’Neill an injury boost after a scan a positive result on his glute / lower back problem.

The Burnley midfielder should be fit to start in the World Cup play-off against Denmark on Saturday.

Hendrick was substituted during his club’s Premier League win over Southampton after 65 minutes on Saturday after sustaining the injury.

He again sat out training today but is expected to take part in a fitness session this afternoon.

Left-back Stephen Ward has also resumed light training after sitting out yesterday’s session.

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