Kevin Doyle on Shane Long's rise for country and club
MY good friend Shane Long is a certain starter for Ireland at Euro 2016 and we have to hope that he doesn't pick up any injuries, as he is crucial to Ireland's hopes of success.
Shane is used to leading the line alone and that is a role he will be asked to fill at the Euros.
The form he has shown in the Premier League with Southampton this season confirms he is ready to take centre stage at Euro 2016 and I hope he delivers.
When I think of the Shane that left Cork City at the same time as me to join up with Reading back in 2005, it’s fantastic (but not surprising) to see how he has flourished.
Shane was new to the life of professional soccer when he moved to England, as he had played more hurling than soccer in his youth.
He was still learning how to play this sport at a higher level during his first few years at Reading.
He needed to understand the tactics of the game more than the basic skills, because the basic skills to be a success in the game were always there for him.
Shane always had the pace, finishing ability and determination to be a success in the game.
It was the fine points that needed ironing out and the player we have seen thriving this season is now a lot closer to the finished article.
He has put together the talents he has been blessed with and added in some experience to produce a footballer everyone can be proud of.
I wish him all the best as he gets his chance to lead the Ireland line in a major championships.
Let's hope the fact he is without his room mate in France doesn't upset his form!
Kevin Doyle supports the Irish Cancer Society – www.cancer.ie/