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Saturday 3 December 2016

Aiden McGeady: It's time to get some payback against Scotland

Goal-shy McGeady has revenge in mind for crunch Euro tie

Aiden McGeady has been tipped to handle the boos in Scotland
Aiden McGeady has been tipped to handle the boos in Scotland
McGeady

LONG after the final whistle had blown and the stadium had closed down, Aiden McGeady was hearing the stick from fans in his native Scotland.

Playing alongside a soundtrack which was a maelstrom of abuse from Scots unhappy at the sight of the Glasgow-born McGeady in an Ireland shirt playing against Scotland, McGeady and the whole Irish team under-performed in that Euro 2016 qualifier in Parkhead last November, the Scots earning a highly-significant 1-0 win.

McGeady's heard it all before as he was regularly booed, and loudly booed, at SPL grounds apart from his Parkhead home turf because of that decision which he made in his mid-teens to declare for Ireland.

READ MORE: Fit-again Aiden is eager to play his part

The Everton man, who with 75 senior caps is the fourth-most experienced player in this Ireland squad, admits that he personally and the team collectively flopped on that big night in Glasgow, and stick which came his way after the game did hurt.

"I never never had anything like that before," says the winger. "It was a game I wasn't really looking forward to because I knew it would be like that. But it would have been great if he had won, if I'd scored, if I'd played well and really just won.

"But we didn't and it made it a whole lot worse because I know all the Scottish players and I know a lot of Scotland fans, who bring it up to me when I'm home. But mainly from the team's point of view, it would have been a big point for us if we had drawn.

"It (the taunting) was okay, but it's still stuff you don't like hearing, even if it is banter, so obviously we have got this game coming up and you really want to win. That's it."

A keen student of the game, McGeady admits that if Scotland away was a test, Ireland failed.

"I don't think anyone on our team could give themselves pass marks from that game," he concedes.

"Every other game we've played in this campaign, regardless of whether the team is playing on all cylinders, if you've got a few players to do something out of the ordinary, do a bit of magic or get on the end of something, that night we didn't have it. I think both teams are very similar on paper but that night Scotland just played better than us.

"I just thought I could really get into the game, especially in the first half, and then probably when I was getting the ball, I was maybe trying to do too much with it.

2015-06-03_spo_10071591_I1.JPG
Aidan McGeady

"Maybe it affected me - I don't think it did, really. I just think it was one of those nights when things didn't quite go to plan, that was all."

It raises the question that comes into the mind of many under-pressure managers: how can the players who look so strong on the training ground appear like shadows in the match situation, when it really counts? And how can Ireland raise their game for that must-win clash with the Scots?

"I think we probably just have to play the way that we can, the way we play in training. They way we play in training, you think, 'If we just bring that into a game'," says McGeady.

"It doesn't always work like that, right enough, but the game against Scotland, we never really had possession of the ball in the first half especially, I remember. We only really came into it when we started probably going a bit more direct in the second half, maybe things bouncing for us, getting flick-ons and stuff.

"But it's all about which way you want to play, I suppose, if we get joy from it.

"That was obviously the problem under Trap, wasn't it? Everyone didn't like the way we played, but it kind of got us the results, didn't it?"

Unprompted, McGeady himself raised the name of Martin O'Neill's predecessor in conversation yesterday, and one point which the Italian repeatedly made to his midfield players was that they simply were not doing enough in terms of goals, especially wide men McGeady (who had a seven-year delay between his first Ireland cap and his first international goal) and Damien Duff.

Perhaps the tide is turning as, of late, midfielders and defenders are contributing more goals.

McGeady scored two in the qualifying win over Georgia, James McClean, who failed to score in his first 23 caps, was Ireland's top scorer (five goals) in 2014 while Robbie Brady and Anthony Pilkington have all stepped up to the plate of late.

"To be fair under Trap, Keano was probably the main source of goals. He probably still is but it has been spread around a bit more. It's probably came because we've been shooting more and a bit of luck," says McGeady, who admits it was frustrating to have scored just three times his first 70 games for Ireland.

"Especially when it took so long for me to get my first goal," he admits.

"You don't want to finish your international career without scoring a goal. So yeah, it was on my mind.

"I suppose it's one of those things that you when you don't think it about, they come along. But I still think I need to score more. And I'd certainly be in the same boat as Duffer. I've had a lot of caps and need to score more."

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