With the countdown to the European Championships well underway the issue of who should go or not go on that plane to France with the Republic of Ireland is an interesting debate.
Despite the recent squad announcement for the friendly games against Switzerland and Slovakia that failed to include Damien Delaney, people are still stating the Delaney should go to the Euro’s.
Shane Duffy showed why Delaney is not needed last Friday night against the Swiss and why if any new face should be added to the group that qualified then he should be that man.
Damien Delaney has had a great couple of seasons with Crystal Palace but for whatever reason he has not been available to manager Martin O’Neill. Talk of a bust up with Roy Keane and failure of assurances of a regular starting berth under O’Neill are just some of the stories doing the rounds to explain his exile, both of which Delaney has denied.
At 34 years of age O’Neill is right to not go chasing the defender. If history has thought us anything chasing players to represent your country is nothing but a waste of time. Stephen Ireland and Jack Grealish come to mind. Both of whom will be lying on a beach this summer as Ireland kick off their tournament against Sweden on June 12th for their own reasons.
Of course chasing players to represent the country, albeit through the regular channels or the famous ‘granny rule’ has been fruitful in the past, if a player wants to play for his country he should be willing to swim across the Irish sea to do so. O’Neill, Keane or anybody else should not have to negotiate terms or conditions with the player. It should be an honour.
Delaney previously featured for Ireland under O’Neill in the summer of 2014, playing a friendly game against Turkey in Dublin. However, according to the former Leicester boss, the defender was not willing to travel to the United States for subsequent friendlies against Portugal and Costa Rica.
Delaney has since made himself available for selection for the European Championships.
Shane Duffy showed last Friday that it was indeed an honour, the stand out player from the players hoping to impress O’Neill ahead of the squad announcement in May. The Blackburn Rovers defender shone alongside goal scorer Ciaran Clark as they kept out the Swiss attack.
Duffy made his Ireland debut, under O’Neill in 2014 against Costa Rica in America. He was called up to train with Giovanni Trapattoni’s’ Ireland squad as an 18-year-old at the end of the 2009-10 season where he suffered a lacerated liver in a freak accident in a practice match and underwent emergency surgery with his life on the line.
After loan spells at Burnley, Scunthorpe and Yeovil he eventually landed a permanent switch to Blackburn Rovers, where his career has now started to take off and has now seen him back in the thoughts of the Ireland manager.
At just 24 years of age Duffy is one of a few young players making the next step in their international careers. It would be a mistake on O’Neill’s part to include Delaney at 34 he will offer little to the future of Irish football at this stage and although performing very well at the highest level for Crystal Palace, O’Neill needs to think ahead to who will be around when hopefully he is selecting his squad for Russia and World Cup 2018.
At that stage Delaney will have turned 37 while at the age of 26 Shane Duffy should be a regular in the Irish defence alongside Ciaran Clark.
The end of this summer’s tournament could also see the end of the road for John O’Shea, Robbie Keane, Shay Given and Wes Hoolahan in an Irish jersey. O’Neill needs to plan ahead with what will be his squad going forward and Duffy will be a major part of that, sadly for Delaney with just 9 caps to his name, maybe he has had his chance but didn’t fully grasp it.