How the Irish fared: D-day arrives for Ireland’s Euro 2016 hopefuls

It was a pretty uneventful weekend for the Irish on the pitch, but today could be a key day for a number of Boys in Green off it.

Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener against Sweden may still be 132 days away but a handful of Irish players may struggle to make Martin O’Neill’s squad should they not secure a deadline day move.

Aiden McGeady is perhaps the most high-profile likely mover.

McGeady has been an O’Neill favourite since their days together at Celtic but the winger’s lack of game time at Everton is a major issue.

McGeady has yet to make a Premier League appearance this season and has only once been seen in an Everton shirt, in the 5-3 win at Barnsley in the Capital One Cup way back in August.

That idleness didn’t stop O’Neill from handing McGeady cameo roles in the qualifier games against Gibraltar, Poland, and the first leg of the play-off against Bosnia but, speaking shortly after qualification for France was secured, the Ireland boss did admit players needed to be playing.

“Players do need time on the field,” he said.

“These next few months, certainly after Christmas, in the lead-up to France, players do need to play.”

Those words should chill McGeady and, while a loan move seemed inevitable throughout January, things have dragged on until the 11th hour.

His future will be resolved today, with Everton boss Roberto Martinez yesterday revealing the Toffees had agreed a loan deal for the 29-year-old with two Championship clubs.

A statement on Everton’s website yesterday said McGeady had been given permission to move on a short-term basis.

The statement mentioned reported interest from Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, and Blackburn, and Martinez said: “It seems very close. 

“We’ve agreed terms with two teams in the Championship.

“It’s just a matter of time before one of the deals is clinched.

“Aiden needs to play and it’s a really good opportunity for him to do that in a very demanding fixture list for a team that can get a really good tempo into Aiden for Euro 2016.”

McGeady’s Everton team-mate Darron Gibson finds himself in a similar predicament, having made just four Premier League appearances from the bench this season.

Gibson hasn’t featured for his country since the 1-0 defeat to Scotland in November 2014 and needs to secure a move today and play consistently from now until the end of the season if he is to have a chance of playing a meaningful role in the summer. 

As is the case with McGeady, today is the most important day of Gibson’s season.

Last week, Joey O’Brien said he may have to leave West Ham in order to mount a late challenge to make the squad for France. 

That probably remains the case but it seems unlikely the Hammers will let the right-back leave now after Carl Jenkinson was last week ruled out for the remainder of the season.

O’Brien’s hopes of Ireland inclusion will almost certainly rest on him making himself the main beneficiary of Jenkinson’s bad luck.

Alan Judge is one Irish player who won’t be on the move today. 

The in-form midfielder has attracted plenty of interest throughout the transfer window with Brentford turning down bids from Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday for the 27-year-old.

However, Judge revealed over the weekend that he won’t be leaving the Bees. 

“It has been flattering to be linked with other clubs, but I will be staying at Brentford this month,” Judge said.

On the pitch, Darren Randolph was the best of the Irish in the FA Cup this weekend, producing a string a fine saves to help West Ham thwart Liverpool on Saturday.

Yesterday, Darren Potter was on the scoresheet but his deflected effort was merely a consolation as the MK Dons lost 5-1 at home to Chelsea.

In League Two, Kenneth McEvoy scored in York City’s 2-1 win over Stevenage. Keith Keane netted for Stevenage.

Elsewhere, an Alan Sheehan own goal helped Notts County to a 2-0 win at Luton.


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