‘Trap had only eyes for seniors’

Ireland U21 manager Noel King may have delivered a glowing epitaph of Giovanni Trapattoni’s impact but his deputy, Harry McCue, yesterday laid bare the Italian’s disinterest in any tier beneath the senior fold.

‘Trap had only eyes for seniors’

McCue, preferred to U19 chief Paul Doolin as U21 caretaker manager when the FAI last week installed King to see out the senior squad’s dismal World Cup qualification campaign, didn’t waver in criticising Trapattoni.

For while most managers of senior international squad are conscious of what’s coming up the ranks – such as Roy Hodgson who actually managed the U21s against Scotland in August – Ireland’s supremo chose to completely ignore it.

The Italian’s scant regard for the future of Irish football was illustrated by his decision not to attend any underage internationals during his five-and-a-half year spell at the helm.

While King had straight-batted the same question on Monday by talking up Trapattoni’s historical feats, his right-man didn’t compromise.

“It was disappointing that he didn’t come to see the teams playing,” McCue said. “He got the tapes of our matches but I didn’t have much interaction with him.

“The new senior manager, in my view, will need a tighter and more forceful link. There has to be a stronger association there with the underage squads. I’m not saying that he has to be at the Emerging Talent Programme every Monday night but he should at least attend a seminar. He could talk about certain styles of play there.”

Despite refusing to rule himself out of the succession race on Monday, King won’t be filling the vacancy on a permanent basis. On four separate occasions during the squad announcement for the concluding qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan, the Dubliner hinted of his desire to land the biggest job in Irish football. He even branded the audition “a great opportunity”.

Within 24 hours, those prospects were binned. FAI chief executive John Delaney praised his stand-in boss to the hilt but stopped short of considering him a suitable candidate on this occasion. The public declaration must have hurt King in the lead-up to the biggest fortnight of his packed managerial career. Whoever the FAI do appoint, however, would be wise to utilise King’s expertise on the backroom staff, according to his sidekick.

“Man-management is Noel’s best asset and the players trust him,” explained McCue.

“Noel is also realistic, and knows it mightn’t work out as the top man this time. But Liam Brady provided an Irish link under the last manager. The players missed Liam went he left so Noel comes into the category.”

McCue is seeking a four-point haul from the away and home fixtures against a Romanian side seeded second in the group behind superpowers Germany. Ireland opened their campaign in August with a 4-1 victory in the Faroe Islands before conceding four times without reply against the Germans in Sligo. McCue admitted: “If we’re looking to finish second and push for a play-off into the 2015 European Championships, a win and a draw are needed.”

Oldham Athletic midfielder Anton Rodgers, son of Liverpool boss Brendan, is back on the radar after a phone-call from King helped dissuade him from switching to Northern Ireland. Patrick Bamford, the Chelsea striker on loan at MK Dons, has yet to give the FAI an answer on whether he’s about to jump ship from England.

However, the United States U20 cap Shane O’Neill, whose father Colm won two football All-Irelands with Cork in 1989 and 1990, is interested in committing to the Irish cause.

“We were thinking of bringing Shane in but it hasn’t got to that point yet,” said McCue. “There has been contact and I think it could work out for us in the future.”

Cork City pair Daryl Horgan and Danny Morrissey marginally missed out on call-ups from Noel King’s deputy. “Daryl hasn’t kicked on the way we’d hoped from earlier in the season, while Danny Morrissey – despite scoring – was quiet in the match I saw him recently [against Drogheda United]. Both are on the standby list.”

nColin O’Brien has been appointed as the new head coach of the Republic of Ireland U15 side.

“I’m delighted to be given this role. It’s a great honour,’’ said the former Cork City, Waterford United and Cobh Ramblers midfielder.

IRELAND U21 squad (v Romania, Oct 11, Piatra Neamt, 4.30pm Irish and Oct 15, in Sligo, 3pm Irish time): A McCarey (Wolves), S McDermott (Sandnes Ulf), M Doherty (Wolves), M Harriman (QPR/loan to Gillingham), J Shaughnessy (Aberdeen), Shane Duffy (Everton/on-loan to Yeovil Town), S McGinty (Sheffield Utd), C Dunne (Blackpool/on-loan to Wycombe Wanderers), D Williams (Bristol City), A O’Connor (Blackburn Rovers/on-loan to Torquay United), C Smith (Watford), F Sutherland (QPR), C Reilly (Birmingham City), A Forde (Wolves), S Murray (Watford), G Burke (Aston Villa/on-loan to Shrewsbury Town), S Carruthers (Aston Villa/on-loan to MK Dons), J Grealish (Aston Villa/on-loan to Notts County), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall).

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