Had things gone differently Greg Cunningham might have been in Tbilisi for last night’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia.
Instead the 23-year-old spent his weekend in the more humble surroundings of Ashton Gate in League One.
Having made his Ireland debut as a Manchester City player four years ago, Cunningham has suffered a number of setbacks since.
He broke his leg while on loan at Leicester on New Year’s Day 2011 but battled back to fitness and enjoyed a successful loan spell at Nottingham Forest. However, he had to accept that he was not going to make the breakthrough at Eastlands and moved to Bristol City in 2012.
That season was interrupted by injury and ended in relegation to League One.
There are, however, signs that Cunningham’s career is finally back on an upward curve. On Saturday, the Galway man came off the bench to make an instant impact in Bristol City’s win over Scunthorpe.
Cunningham was on the pitch less than a minute when his exquisite shot turned a nervy 1-0 lead into a comfortable 2-0 scoreline. The victory lifted Bristol City to second and Cunningham was quick to hail his manager Steve Cotterill.
He said: “He wanted the second goal to make the game safe and he wanted me to get forward and into the box whenever I could. It was very positive and there was never any talk about shoring things up and defending.”
While Saturday was a good day for Cunningham, fellow Irishman Gary Dicker was going through very different emotions in League Two.
Carlisle were leading Wimbledon 4-2 going into the final 10 minutes when Dicker conceded a penalty and was sent off for handball.
The spot-kick was converted and Wimbledon equalised in stoppage time.
Carlisle are considering an appeal against Dicker’s dismissal.