It was a different atmosphere out in Abbotstown on Monday morning as Mick McCarthy took charge of Republic of Ireland training for the first time in 17 years.
As his charges played out some two and three touch work, McCarthy’s voice carried across the training pitch offering words of encouragement to his players. It seemed like McCarthy was in his element.
It hasn’t been the easiest of 24 hours or so for the FAI, who failed in their late night High Court challenge to stop publication of the Sunday Times story relating to a loan to the organisation from John Delaney (the parking space for the Chief Executive was empty on Monday at FAI HQ).
The FAI Awards last night saw a number of no-shows for award winners for various reasons. They included Senior Men’s winner Shane Duffy who missed out due to not making his flight following his side’s extra time win in the FAI Cup quarter-final while Young Player of the Year Declan Rice has thrown his international cap in with England and so didn't attend.
Having said all that there was a light mood around the camp on Bank Holiday Monday helped by a manager who was quick to stress how much he enjoyed being back working with Ireland.
“I enjoyed it. It was alright,” said McCarthy with a smile after the training session when he came in to talk to the media. “It was good.
“I loved the atmosphere with the lads, the banter they are all having, the little boxes and the warm-ups; getting back and being at close quarters with players. I enjoy their company and interacting with them was great. I’ve enjoyed my morning.”
Also returning to train with Ireland, after an albeit shorter absence, was Jack Byrne. The player, who trained with Ireland in March 2016 under Martin O’Neill, impressed McCarthy in Tallaght Stadium last Friday night with an eye catching goalscoring performance for his new club Shamrock Rovers and he earned a call up over the weekend in place of the injured Callum O’Dowda.
“He was outstanding the other night,” said McCarthy about the former Manchester City Academy player.
extratime.ie asked the returning Ireland boss does he have more confidence in players from the domestic league compared with during his previous tenure?
“Before was 17 years ago and it was pretty much semi-pro and not full time as it is now. I just go to the games and look at the players.
“In training this morning, you can see he (Jack Byrne) is more than capable of mixing it with the lads there.
"I guess if I’d have seen him the last time, and he’d have played like that, I’d have had confidence in him then, but I didn’t see anybody like that, so I guess that is the benefit of going to watch the games. He had an excellent performance on Friday night."
McCarthy has limited training time with the players this week before their campaign kicks off in Gibraltar on Saturday afternoon.
“It isn’t a pressure. I’m not going to be teaching them how to play football. I will give them a template of how they should play and we can maximise what we’ve got so we can get the best possible results. We can do that with the time that we have.
“I reckon it is my job to get results, however they come. If we get enough of them and we are in the European Championship in 2020, that has got to be my remit.
“I’m sure we played some scrappy times the last time I was here but I never heard any complaints when we won a game. I only hear the fans cheering.
“When you are winning games, people think you are playing better football. It is up to me to get positive results and get people smiling again.”
A number of players sat out training on Monday including Seamus Coleman who will, according to McCarthy, captain the side “if he plays.” Coleman and Seani Maguire were given additional time to recover from their games over the weekend.
“(Maguire) doesn’t train on Mondays. Whatever Preston do that has him playing, playing well and scoring, I will adhere to whatever they want. Richard Keogh will have a cast on his hand but that should get passed by the authorities so that he can play.”
Giovanni Trapattoni seemed to name his team week’s before matches, while under Martin O’Neill it seemed to be in the dressing room just before the warm up. McCarthy, it seems, will be somewhere in the middle.
“You won’t have my team the day before. You’ll get it on the day of the game and the players will know the team pretty early.”
“I enjoyed the first training session anyway!” pic.twitter.com/YAbjYKWzUc— Extratime.ie (@ExtratimeNews) March 18, 2019