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Saturday 10 December 2016

Doyle relieved to be back in the fold after lengthy wait

Goalkeeper Colin Doyle limbers up in Irish squad training. Pic: Sportsfile
Goalkeeper Colin Doyle limbers up in Irish squad training. Pic: Sportsfile

The last time Colin Doyle made it an Ireland squad, the nation was just days away from an infamous moment in time. Thierry Henry and all that.

That call-up came two years after his only senior appearance for Ireland in Giants Stadium in a 1-1 draw with Ecuador, a game long since faded from memory.

Doyle was contacted when Keiren Westwood withdrew from that fateful squad but he had an event of his own on his schedule which could be cancelled. Marriage.

"My last call up was Henry, French handball. Alan Kelly called me up because Westy had pulled out with an injury," said Doyle.

"I was actually getting married on the Friday so when he called me I was like "I'm actually getting married, Al". I was going to come in but at the time he just said "nah, leave it". So that was my last call-up.

Ireland boss Martin O’Neill. Pic: Sportsfile
Ireland boss Martin O’Neill. Pic: Sportsfile

"I was in a bar at home watching it. It was frustrating," he added.

Frustrating on all sorts of levels. He could not have known then that his next involvement would come in 2016 but he knew that any opportunity at senior international level should be grabbed with both hands. Even when the moment came last week, it was delayed.

"The club didn't actually tell me. They didn't realise. When they released the provisional squad, the club got it and then the main squad was released in the press," he said.

"They didn't realise and didn't tell me. It was actually my mate that texted me and said congratulations with a picture of an Irish flag.

"I sort of put two and two together and checked the press and saw I was in the squad," he said laughing.

Thrilled

"I just went on the FAI Twitter or whatever it was to check and saw my name! I had to check twice if it was me or not in the end, and it was so I was pleased.

Doyle had already reached the point where the Ireland squad was out of his reach.

"There were times when I was looking at squads and the likes of Gary Rogers of Dundalk was in it, and then the last one where the two Under-21 keepers were called in," he said. "I thought I was playing well enough in League One in England, third in the league, so I thought I would get a chance, you know what I mean?

"I thought maybe it is (finished) and then this squad came around and I'm back in it, so I'm thrilled to be involved. I relished coming here, training yesterday and again today," he said.

From a position no more than a year ago where Ireland's goalkeeping resources looked decidedly thin, Martin O'Neill has a growing pool to pick from

"There is a good crop of goalkeeper flying about at the moment even with Shay gone and Fordey saying he wants to concentrate on his club," he said.

"It's good for Ireland but the way Darren is playing at the moment he is obviously staking his claim for that No 1 shirt and he's doing well to keep it. I'm pleased for him. We roomed together at Birmingham so we know each other well. We were there for two years.

"I think he was surprised to get in at the time (against Germany). Fordey was on the bench with him and he got the nod when Shay came off. He's been brilliant in every game since.

"You never know now, he wants to get into the West Ham team and you just never know when he goes back."

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