quinn: let's be patient at aviva
Midfielder hoping for early goal and plays down Grealish 'banter'
AFTER his starting role - a surprise one - for Ireland away to Georgia last month, Hull City player Stephen Quinn is the man in possession when it comes to a midfield slot in the Irish side.
And despite his troubles at club level - Quinn has been left on the bench for Hull's last two Premier League games - he has no plans to relinquish that role to anyone, strong words and real intent from a man whose life in senior football began with a debut for St Patrick's Athletic all of 10 years ago who insists that he's a "battler".
But the much-travelled 28-year-old says that his fight for the right to a place in the Irish side does not include a scrap with Ireland hopeful (or should that be 'hopefully Irish?') Jack Grealish.
Quinn says he was amazed to discover that in the aftermath of an on-field row with Grealish when Hull played Aston Villa back in August he ended up on the front pages of the newspapers.
Grealish, who is an Ireland U21 international but has also delayed making a final decision on his international allegiance in the face of interest from England, claimed that Quinn called him a "fake Paddy" in the game.
Dubliner Quinn does not deny the charge but puts it down as standard "banter" from the football field.
"There was a bit of banter. Fabien Delph was involved as well, he started it as if it was banter, the story unfortunately grew arms and legs and ran away with itself. I think it was the front page of the newspapers at one point," says Quinn.
"There are a lot worse things happening in the world than me having a bit of banter with a fellow Irish, or potentially Irish, player.
"I was surprised it came back up to be honest. The story probably grew arms and legs and got broadcast more than it should have done. But he's a good young lad and hopefully he'll be an Irish international one day."
At 28, Quinn has had to wait a long time for an international career in the footsteps of his older brother, Alan, who was capped eight times, so now his chance has come - a chance he thought would never happen under Giovanni Trapattoni though Trap did finally cap the Hull lad - he's keen to keep that place which he earned in Tbilisi, Quinn playing a key role in that 2-1 win in Georgia, with pressure for places from people like David Meyler, Darron Gibson and Jeff Hendrick.
"It's a good squad here so it is always going to be a battle. Throughout my career it has been a battle anyway in trying to impress and climb the leagues and what have you.
"Now my face is in there I can only keep trying to apply myself and play well, most importantly, and keep my place in the team," says Quinn, who admited that the Georgia game was an emotional occasion as his parents had recently passed away.
"Everyone knows how much the Georgia game meant to me, with my parents passing. It was a proud moment for me and my family, I had worked so hard to get there. I was 28 getting my first qualifying game so it was a hard road, a long road but I never doubted myself," he says, reflecting on a journey which saw him emerge as a teenager with St Pats, handed a debut by then boss Eamonn Collins way back in 2004.
"I think it was against Rovers. I took a bit of stick from the Rovers fans. That was my only game for Pats and then I was across the water," he says.
Patience has been key in his career and he stresses the need for that from the Irish crowd tomorrow against Gibraltar.
"We've definitely got to be patient and the crowd have to be patient with us as well. It would be good to get an early goal, to be honest, but if not we've got to be patient and try to come up with something," says Quinn.
"We have to use the ball and come up with a tactic that will break them down over the course of the 90 minutes. We've got fully fit players and hopefully they'll tire and we can get some goals."