Rovers wait for Burke’s return

Graham Burke has revealed he had no discussion with Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley about the decision which means he will miss tonight’s game against Dundalk as he prepares for tomorrow’s clash with the USA.

“I didn’t have the conversation, (with Bradley),” said the Hoops man. “I think that was just done with him and Martin (O’Neill). 

"Maybe his (Bradley’s) decision was to say, ‘The opportunity he has on Saturday, I’m not going to risk him in the Dundalk game.’ 

"It wasn’t my thinking: if he wanted me to play, I was going to play (against Dundalk). That was his decision.”

Earlier yesterday, Bradley had confirmed: “Graham is with Ireland. He’s not available to us. He’ll play for Ireland and I’m delighted for him on a personal level. 

"Obviously, as a manager, I’m gutted that we’re missing someone who, for me, has been the best player in the league this year against the team who, for me, has been the best team in the league. 

"You’d love to have him but you can’t deny someone an Irish international game. I’d never do that.”

Burke is in line to collect his second Irish cap after becoming the first League of Ireland player since Cork City’s Joe Gamble in 2007 to play for his country when he came off the bench in Paris on Monday.

“Obviously nerves were forming, but you’re trying to stay relaxed,” he said of his momentous debut in the Stade de France.

“I didn’t want the occasion to overwhelm me, I wanted to play the way I normally play for Rovers and block out the crows that was there. 

"I think many footballers, they don’t really pay attention much to the crowd, whether it’s 80,000 or 4,000. It’s loud but you’re not really concentrating on that, you’re concentrating on the game.”

On having become that rare thing for an Irish footballer, an active domestic player in the international game, Burke said: “For someone to get a senior cap while playing in the League of Ireland is brilliant. 

"It’s not just for me, it’s for every other player in the league to see that, if you’re doing well, it’s achievable. And I probably won’t be the last player to do it. It shows that it can be done.

“This is the pinnacle for a player. You want to go out and represent your country. It’s an unbelievable feeling. 

"Even standing there for the national anthem in front of 80,000, that’s another thing that will stick with you when you’ve your head on the pillow telling grandkids and everything like that.”

And the jersey? “It’s only drying now,” he laughed.



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