Reborn McGeady to spark Irish success
4 June, Euro 2012 friendly: Hungary v Republic of Ireland (Budapest)
Republic of Ireland head into their final Euro 2012 preparations with a visit to the Ferenc Puskas Stadion in Budapest to take on Hungary tomorrow evening. Giovanni Trapattoni’s men are in fine form after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat of Bosnia & Herzegovina in Dublin, stretching their unbeaten run to 13 matches.
Ireland have faced Hungary 11 times before, with the last meeting taking place 21 years ago on September 11, 1991. They ran out 2-1 winners, with goals from David Kelly and Kevin Sheedy enough to give them the points, but, ultimately, they lost out by a solitary point to England in qualification for the 1992 European Championship finals.
Trapattoni has no fresh injury worries this time, with only Sunderland’s John O’Shea and Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given remaining doubts in the 23-man squad. With both expected to feature in Budapest, Ireland will be looking to notch up another win that will bring more hope rather than expectation when they kick off against Croatia in Poznan next Sunday.
Aiden McGeady proved by his second-half display last time out in Dublin that he may finally have found a way to deliver on the international stage. After two seasons in the Russian footballing wilderness, McGeady seems to have gotten back the spark that was somewhat lacking during his times with Celtic and Ireland. With young starlet James McClean coming into the fray, it has not gone unnoticed that McGeady has finally decided to put in a shift when wearing the green shirt and he could become Ireland’s star against Croatia, Spain and Italy.
Ireland wouldn’t be Ireland without a furore or another and this week’s events have been no different, with Trapattoni omitting Wolves defender Kevin Foley – after originally selecting him three weeks ago – and drafting in standby Hull City defender Paul McShane in his place. With Foley still hampered by a recent hamstring injury, Trapattoni felt that McShane, who is fit, could cover several positions at the back and this was the reason behind his decision.
To say that Foley felt that he had been undermined would be an understatement but the manager has to make tough decisions and the Italian has shown he is willing to do whatever it takes to get his point across, whether footballers or the media like it or not. Hungary in Budapest will be no walk in the park but I fully expect Ireland to finish with another win.
Prediction: Hungary 1, Ireland 2
Group C update: Spain beat South Korea 4-1 in Berne, Switzerland, last Wednesday. They meet China in Seville this evening. Italy lost 3-0 to Russia in Zurich on Friday night. Croatia drew 1-1 with Norway in Oslo yesterday.