Football

'We Were Meant To Have A Meeting That Didn't Happen. We Were Told To Stay In Our Rooms'

'We Were Meant To Have A Meeting That Didn't Happen. We Were Told To Stay In Our Rooms'

With John Egan and Derrick Williams unavailable for Ireland's Nations League game against Wales on Sunday afternoon, and Kevin Long then being forced off the pitch with an eye injury, Matt Doherty stepped across from right-back to fill the breach.

The Spurs defender did so admirably, winning Sky Sports' Man of the Match for the game. It finished scoreless between the two sides.

"I felt quite comfortable there," Doherty told Sky Sports.

"I played a lot of centre-half growing up. It was nothing that was too strange to me. I felt I picked up the position well enough.

"I gave the ball away trying to risk a few passes but that's part and parcel of the game. You don't keep the ball 100 per cent of the time.

"I really enjoyed playing beside Duffy. It gave me a different perspective on the game. It made me realise when I do play right-back, what centre-halves see. Maybe I won't shout at them as much when I play right-back!"

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An international window already disrupted by Covid-19 was thrown into further turmoil before Sunday's game when it emerged that five players would be unavailable to play. One had tested positive while four more were deemed close contacts. They were in addition to the already absent Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah.

"Last evening it was going around [that something was going on]," said Doherty.

"We were meant to have a meeting that didn't happen. We were told to stay in our rooms. Nothing was really confirmed until this morning. We had enough players to play the game and we played well.

"That's why you have a big squad. It gives other people opportunities to come on the pitch and prove they could be in the starting team for the next game.

"It was challenging [against Wales] with the playoff defeat which went on what felt like all night. We flew back quite late and then, obviously all the Covid stuff that's happened to us over the last 12 or so hours.

"I thought we played really well, created some really good chances."

Ireland still have another game to come away to Finland on Wednesday.

"The body will be fine," said Doherty, who has played every minute of the games against Slovakia and Wales.

"We'll never use tiredness as an excuse. I'm quite used to playing a lot of games. Fatigue is not going to be a problem. I can complain about tiredness when I've retired."

 

PJ Browne
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