Football

Stephen Ward Calls Time On Ireland Career After McCarthy Cut

Stephen Ward Calls Time On Ireland Career After McCarthy Cut

Mick McCarthy cut his 38-man provisional squad for this month's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia earlier today, with 15 players released from duty. For one, that release will be permanent.

Stephen Ward has called time on an international career that saw him win 50 caps on the left side of an Irish defence.

Called up for the first time by Giovanni Trapattoni for the Home Nations ties with Northern Ireland and Scotland in 2011, Ward had a debut to remember, opening the scoring in a 5-0 hammering of our northern neighbours at the Aviva.

The then Wolves full-back made a lasting impression on the Italian manager, cementing himself at left-back over the next year as the Republic qualified for Euro 2012 - the former Bohs man even managing to get on the scoresheet on that magical qualifying night against Estonia.

When Trap departed in 2013, little changed under Martin O'Neill with Ward more-or-less ever present in the qualifying campaigns for the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.

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He featured in three of Ireland's four games at the tournament, as O'Neill's men were eventually seen off by hosts France in the round of 16.

Now 33, Ward has struggled for first team action at Burnley this season and indeed hasn't pulled on a green jersey since the humbling 4-1 defeat to Wales in Cardiff put pay to the side's World Cup ambitions last April. A sombre enough occasion to win your 50th cap.

Having been originally called back into the provisional squad under former club manager McCarthy, who actually brought the Dubliner to Molineaux from Dalymount Park for £100,000 back in 2007, Wardy was cut alongside the likes of other experienced players Aiden McGeady and David Meyler this afternoon.

Stephen, it's been a pleasure!

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Aaron Strain

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