Excited McCarthy bidding to make a little bit of history

When asked if today’s FA Cup final represents the biggest game of his career James McCarthy’s response is instant.

Definitely,’’ the Republic of Ireland international replies, “it’s a game you dream of as a kid. It’s a massive day for each and every one of the players and each and every one who is associated with the club. There’s a real excitement about the club. We’re all looking forward to it.”

Bookmakers make Wigan rank outsiders to beat a Manchester City side looking to finish a disappointing season on a high at Wembley but the highly-rated midfielder, while accepting today will be a difficult ask, believes the underdogs can spring a surprise.

“It’s going to be tough, we know that. We know the qualities Man City bring to it but it’s a one-off game and we’ll go and give it our best shot. Winning would be unbelievable, as a kid you dream about days like this,” McCarthy says.

The practice of playing semi-finals at Wembley is often criticised but McCarthy feels experiencing the place in last month’s 2-0 semi-final win over Millwall will stand to the Wigan players.

In this case familiarity doesn’t breed contempt.

“It’s a great arena to play in. We enjoyed the occasion (in the semi-final). We’ve been there before and we know what it’s about now.”

Nerves will inevitably be part of the day but McCarthy will not be changing his normal pre-match routine for the decider

“Just about every game you get a bit of nerves. It’s more exciting than nerves maybe. You look forward to it. It’s a great occasion for each and every one of the boys and everyone in Wigan,” he adds.

“I’ve got superstitions leading up to the game. I eat the exact same pre-match meal before every game and, the way I go about each week, I try and keep it the exact same.”

A Wigan win would be seismic on many levels, one of which being that it would see McCarthy make a little bit of history by becoming the first Irishman to win an FA Cup medal at Wembley this century. Roy Keane and John O’Shea played when Manchester United beat Millwall 3-0 to win the 2004 final while Steve Finnan was part of the Liverpool side that defeated West Ham on penalties after a frantic 3-3 draw in the 2006 decider. However, both of those finals were held at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Keane was Ireland’s last Wembley winner during Manchester United’s treble-winning season of 1999 and his day lasted just nine minutes before injury forced him off in the 2-0 win over Newcastle, a game Denis Irwin missed due to suspension. Since then there have been Irish Wembley finalists but no winners.

McCarthy hopes to change that.


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