| 7.6°C Dublin

ireland setback Why David McGoldrick’s decision to call time on his Irish career is bad news for Stephen Kenny


Close

Republic of Ireland striker David McGoldrick has announced his retirement from international football (Brian Lawless/PA)

Republic of Ireland striker David McGoldrick has announced his retirement from international football (Brian Lawless/PA)

Republic of Ireland striker David McGoldrick has announced his retirement from international football (Brian Lawless/PA)

David McGoldrick’s decision to call time on his Irish career is bad news for Stephen Kenny, no matter how you try and dress it up.

The Sheffield United attacker was Ireland’s best player in 2019 and their most effective performer in the playoff defeat to Slovakia next month.

Yes, he did only manage to score once in his 14 games in green, but once a fitter McGoldrick returned to the fold under Mick McCarthy after a fallout with Martin O’Neill, he instantly became the team’s most important player. His appearances coincided with Ireland’s better displays.

Indeed, the worst days of McCarthy’s second stint came when McGoldrick was absent. It’s no surprise that he was central to the strong showing in Bratislava that ended in bitter disappointment and ultimately the decision to step away.

It’s a blow for Kenny, although it apparently didn’t come out of nowhere. He had previously indicated a degree of surprise that McGoldrick (pictured) had opted to play on seeing as the 32-year-old has four kids and is also trying to make the most of his belated Premier League opportunity with the Blades.

His injury record has improved in recent years, yet he’s failed to avoid niggling setbacks and the two-year contract he signed last summer will be very important to a player who has to cherish this late shot at the big time and the riches that come with it. There’s a pragmatism in setting international breaks aside to rest and have more time with his family.

He wouldn’t have gone down this route if Ireland had qualified for the Euros, but he’s 33 later this month and will be 35 when Qatar comes around. Throwing himself into that mission when there’s every chance he might not be around to enjoy the rewards may only have delayed disappointment down the line.

Still, that’s veering into glass half-full territory when there’s a pressing need for Kenny to try and get a victory on the board.

He had spoken of how he was looking forward to seeing McGoldrick and Aaron Connolly on the pitch at the same time. They were set to combine in that ill-fated play-off before the Covid chaos took Connolly out of the equation.

The thinking was clear. McGoldrick’s ability to drop deep might drag central defenders out of space and allow Connolly to dart in behind. Now that option is gone and Kenny will have to work on a ‘Plan B’.

In a way, it does clear the path for the next generation. While Shane Long, Seani Maguire and Callum Robinson will have other ideas,

with the latter perhaps entering pole position in the interim, Kenny’s Under-21 stars can now assume responsibility knowing that the shirt is up for grabs.

Adam Idah got the nod in September but he’s a work in progress, while Connolly and Michael Obafemi are arguably more suited to a front two than a solo station through the middle. The player coming through the ranks that is arguably closest to McGoldrick in terms of style and presence is the exciting Troy Parrott, but the teenager is unavailable through injury at the moment and won’t be able to help Kenny in the games with England, Wales and Bulgaria with the manager naming his squad today.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

It’s a short-term dilemma he could do without.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy