Kevin Doyle: I wasn't surprised but missing out on the Euros is tough to take
IT CAME as no major surprise to me when I missed out on a place in the Irish Euro 2016 squad.
To be honest, I felt my chances all along were 50/50 to make the final 23, especially after getting injured early on in my last international start and my first for a long time back in March.
After being included in the initial squad, I was still holding out hope that I might sneak one of the last places up for grabs and thought my international record might give me a chance after getting myself back to full fitness and playing regularly in recent weeks.
It’s still tough to not be selected and I certainly wouldn’t envy the task the manager had cutting players before such a massive competition, but we are all big boys and as professional sportsmen we are well used to these situations over the years.
It may have been better if the announcement of the final 23-man squad was made a week previously as they would have put the players, fans and journalists out of their misery.
After all the waiting, I don’t think there were any great shocks in the final panel that was confirmed just before the deadline on Tuesday, so the squad could have been announced earlier and those of us who missed out placed on standby in case of injuries
It’s unfortunate that the announcement wasn’t preceded by beating Belarus and keeping intact an unbeaten run, which would have been great for team confidence.
Also, my club Colorado Rapids are flying high in the MLS at the moment and they were keen to be kept up to speed about whether I would be gone for the table topping clash we had in the league last week.
So it was tricky trying to keep everyone in the loop when I wasn’t sure myself.
Being so far removed from the situation living in the USA is tough and communication becomes a bit more difficult, but I had my bags packed, I’d kissed the family goodbye and was about to fly from Seattle after our game there to meet up for the Holland game only for the manager to change plans at the last minute.
There was then an understanding then that I would leave straight after we played Philadelphia the following weekend to fly to Cork and play some of the game there. Again that plan was changed at the last minute.
I would have loved a run out at my old stomping ground in Turner’s Cross, but it wasn’t to be.
Every manager does things differently, it’s a tough job that never pleases everybody and this manager sees this as a way of keeping people on their toes.
It has brought him success in the past and we all hope it works again this time.
In the end, I found out who was in the squad by watching the news as it was confirmed like everyone else and it certainly added drama to the proceedings.
At least I hadn’t made the trip from Colorado to Ireland only to be told I was not needed a couple of days later and in the end, it’s hard to have too many complaints with the squad that has been picked.
There was a lot of debate over whether Robbie Keane (inset) should be included and his selection may well have affected my own position, but I fully agree with the decision to have our greatest ever goalscorer in our Euro 2016 panel.
Robbie is our star player, the one name every other nation in the world will be aware of in the Ireland squad and his presence on the bench could be very useful in the final few minutes of a game if we are in need of a goal.
At the age of 35, Robbie won’t be starting games at international level any more, but he offers an impact coming off the bench, making those intelligent runs and scoring the odd vital goal that could make all the difference.
His football brain is still a step ahead of most and in an Ireland selection that doesn’t have many proven goalscorers, Robbie could still offer that little bit of magic that could be so crucial in a team.
We need all the experience we can get in those forward positions for what will be three tough group games against Sweden, Belgium and Italy.
While it was frustrating to see my hopes of playing in Euro 2016 coming to an end, I wish each and every one of my team-mates heading to France this summer well and will be cheering them on every second of the way.
It will be very strange to be sat in America watching our opening match against Sweden just over a week from now, as my heart will very much at the Stade de France with the lads I have got to know so well over the last 10 years.
Let’s dare to dream we can be the surprise team of Euro 2016 and while I may be a little further away from the action than I would have wanted, the Ireland manager and his players will have no bigger supporter than me this summer.
Kevin Doyle supports the Irish Cancer Society – www.cancer.ie/