The only pity is that Brady — the first person to win both Senior and Young Player Awards — won’t be in with a chance of being named man-of-the match next Friday, suspension ruling the Burnley man out of the World Cup qualifier against Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
Not that he’ll be alone on the outside looking in. As the Irish management and squad gathered at RTÉ for the awards ceremony, Martin O’Neill’s injury problems continued to grow at an alarming rate, with Harry Arter (calf), Ciaran Clark (knee), Paul McShane (hamstring), David McGoldrick (knee), and Liam Kelly (hamstring) the latest to be ruled out of Friday’s game, joining Shane Duffy and Brady on the missing list.
Although Wes Hoolahan and James McCarthy are retained in the manager’s pared-down squad, both players remain injury doubts as preparations for the Wales game get underway with a first training session at Abbotstown this morning.
“We’ve had a few problems, possibly more than most times that we’ve got together,” confirmed O’Neill. But we’ve got a great old spirit among the players and whoever participates on Friday evening will be ready for the game.” Award-winner Robbie Brady admitted he’d love to be able to extend his celebrations through to a playing role on Friday.
“I’m devastated to be missing the game and disappointed in myself with the two yellow cards,” he said.
“But I’ll be doing my part to help the lads get ready for Friday. The injuries? It’s nothing we can’t handle. We’ve got a big squad, we’ll have a good week’s preparation and everyone will be chomping at the bit.”
Among the other award-winners last night were Daryl Horgan (SSE Airtricity League), Callum O’Dowda (U21) and Karen Duggan (Women’s Senior International), while Dundalk received a Special Merit Award, Robbie Keane was inducted in the Hall of Fame and former Wales international John Hartson was named International Personality.
Horgan, now with Preston, still struggles to put Dundalk’s memorable 2016 into words.
“A bit unbelievable,” he said last night. “To win the three in a row under such intense pressure from Cork and to marry that with the great run we had in Europe was brilliant. It finished on a bit of a disappointing note with not qualifying (from the Europa League group) and losing the cup final but, when you do look back, it was a special year.” And on the possibility of making his senior Irish debut over the coming days, he added: “If it came up that I would play some part I would take off my right arm. It will be very difficult to get into the team but fingers crossed for three points and if I can play a part, great.” Meanwhile, Hall of Famer Robbie Keane joked that many of those who paid tributes to him last night – including Pele – seemed intent on retiring him from the game completely.
But Ireland’s record scorer and caps holder said that, while he won’t make a decision until the summer, he definitely intends to play on at club level for “another year or so.”
Republic of Ireland Squad
Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood, Colin Doyle
Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce, John O’Shea, Andy Boyle, John Egan, Stephen Ward
Aiden McGeady, Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, Conor Hourihane, David Meyler, Eunan O’Kane, Wes Hoolahan, James McClean, Jonathan Hayes, Daryl Horgan, Callum O’Dowda
Jonathan Walters, Shane Long, Daryl Murphy, Kevin Doyle