Quinn: SQUAD IS united
Hull man insists players have fully bought into O'Neill ethos on rotation as Euro bid gathers pace
THE ART of man-management, and trying to keep grumpy players onside, was one of those battles that Giovanni Trapattoni fought and lost many times in his stint as Ireland boss.
At the end of his reign Irish football was left with a long list of disgruntled internationals who were displeased with team selection. From James McClean and his "shambles" comment at the end of Euro 2012 to Trap's "idiotic" Shane Long in Belgrade and a "shocked and disgusted" Stephen Kelly, the barbs and the insults, the gripes and the groans all caused pain.
Whether it's the presence of Roy Keane, the lack of a language barrier or a more adult approach from all concerned, any complaints which might be present are kept in-house.
As the Irish squad drifted back to their homes in the UK in the early hours of Wednesday morning after that 1-1 draw in Germany, you'd have to feel for men like Shane Long, Anthony Stokes, Anthony Pilkington and Alex Pearce who had all spent 10 days away from their families without kicking a ball for Ireland in the Gibraltar/Germany double header while Wes Hoolahan's reward for an excellent display against Gibraltar was to be dropped in Gelsenkirchen.
So far in the campaign, established internationals like Long and Kevin Doyle have each managed just one sub appearances while, apart from the goalkeepers, three players (Ciaran Clark, Anthony Pilkington and Alex Pearce) have watched all of all three qualifiers from the bench.
For Stephen Quinn, a player who has benefited from the O'Neill era, it's a matter of the players accepting the manager's way and seeing the big picture: France 2016.
"It gives me a lot of confidence in myself to know that I am picked for competitive games away to Georgia and Germany, but on the other side of that I wasn't picked for the Gibraltar match so I can't assume anything," Quinn told The Herald.
"We have a great camaraderie in the squad, I think that's the biggest thing we have in the squad, and we all have to deal with the decisions the manager makes.
"Weso was brilliant against Gibraltar but he didn't make the team for Germany away. Me and Wes are maybe suited to a different kind of game, the manager sees that and he makes the call. I understand that and so does Weso. It's a squad game, it's about rotation and we have to accept that.
"You look at someone like Shane Long who was with us all week for Gibraltar and Germany and didn't get on the field. That is hard on someone like Shane, to be away from your club and your family and not get to play, but it's about getting results and Shane, like everyone in the squad, has to bide his time.
"I know that it's hard on the lads who come away for a week or more and don't play but this is a long campaign, we will have injuries and suspensions and we have to deal with it, keep up your discipline and your professionalism and be ready for your chance when it comes."
Quinn squared up to some pretty big names in the Veltins Arena, and chances are that players like Toni Kroos had heard little, if anything, of Stephen Quinn or Hull City before this week. But the former St Patrick's Athletic man says he was not over-awed by the prospect of facing 10 Champions League regulars in the German starting XI.
"They are only human beings at the end of the day and you can't go our and fear someone just because he plays for Real Madrid. Because if you fear someone like that you'll just get steamrolled," says Quinn.
"Those German players have ten fingers and ten toes like the rest of us so we have to just put it up to them and we did that.
"We worked on our shape and we limited their chances. We went to Germany with confidence as we'd won our previous two games in the group so why not give it a go, and we hung in to get the draw."
International duties completed successfully this week, Quinn heads back to another battle - trying to get into the side at his club. He has lost his place at Hull recently but the Dubliner, who has been linked with moves to Bolton and Blackburn, hopes that his work in the Ruhr was noticed.
"In the two games I played in for Hull the manager probably thought I had tired a bit so he went a different way in the last two matches. So I just have to bide my time and be professional, I know I will get minutes under my belt this year," he admits.
"The manager is interested in how we all get on at the internationals and you get a text from the assistant manager wishing you luck before a game, that they are keeping an eye out for us, so I go into Ireland games knowing that the club manager might be watching out. If I can do my best against Germany maybe I can get a run-out against Arsenal at the weekend it's only Arsenal," he joked.
"With Ireland, it's been special for me, to come in and not just play but start in two of the three qualifiers. I don't dwell on it too much and I can't let myself think about it all the time, I have to keep taking each squad and each game as it comes. I have to keep proving myself and keep proving to the manager that I can do a job at international level."