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Doyle: 'Henry issue is in the past'

Wolves striker banishes pain of Paris and insists his club's pursuit of Hunt would pay big dividend "It's something to take my mind off things," jokes Kevin Doyle. "Oh, my girlfriend will love to hear that won't she!"

Got by the nuptials, the Ireland striker is trying to lighten up a situation he's unused to. And that's seeing a pack of hardbitten soccer writers turn into bright-eyed celebrity diarists at the revelation that he's set to get married in June.

The Wolves player has explained how he's rationalised the disappointment he felt at Ireland being denied a place in the World Cup finals by the cheating hand of Thierry Henry. It's a convoluted exercise in logical analysis. But for a professional player to survive the greasy hunker-sliding of the odious Sepp Blatter, dashed hopes have to be transformed into something akin to positive.

"When you think about it, it's football," says Doyle. "Decisions like that going against you is the reason why football is so passionate and the reason it's on TV and radio. Programmes are set just to talk about incidents like that. It's a controversy. It gets back page headlines and gets people talking on the street.

"If you don't have that, it loses something. I make my living from football and we need stories like that. And arguments and issues like that. In the short run it hurts me massively not to go to the World Cup. Over the next few years they'll get a chance again. But in the long run, being a footballer, all those issues, if we didn't have them it would be very boring."

It's then that I enquire if Kevin has sorted out his summer holiday plans.

"I'm getting married in the summer now," he says quietly. "So I can thank (Thierry) Henry for that. Fill a gap. It's a bigger break than I'd normally expect so I'll do that and we'll watch the World Cup and that'll make me want to go to it more in the future."

Thoughts of goal tallies, relegation worries and Wolves' FA Cup progress are set aside as the lads get to grips with the nitty gritty.

When? "First week in June."

Where? "In Limerick." (Adare Manor according to my friends on the social scene.)

What's her name? "Jenny (Harney)."

Were you engaged? "I was engaged and we were getting married in 2011 but we brought it forward because it'll be the biggest break we'll have."

What's the dress like? Okay, while some of the guys who write for the Sunday papers have different concerns than the rest of us, I may have imagined that last question.

But I wasn't hearing things when Kevin shrugged off his header which gave Wolves a historic win at White Hart Lane in December and lifted his club out of the relegation zone.

"I wouldn't say it was a career highlight," he says. "My first goal for Ireland was. And my first goal in English football was. First goal in the Premiership. That's the one against Spurs a few years ago when we beat them 3-0. My first goal for Wolves is always nice just because there's a bit of pressure and it gets it out of your system."

Doyle is every inch the model pro.



Pressure

Talented, skillful, hardworking, articulate and focused, he's equipped to meet the challenges his career throws his way. He's already worn the Ireland captain's armband (against South Africa) and is a firm favourite of the fans at Molineux.

Still smarting from the defeat by Wigan, he's anxious to get stuck into what are six-pointers against Hull and West Ham. "I prefer the six pointers cos when you do win them..." he says, his voice trailing off. "We beat Spurs a few weeks ago but it doesn't make the same difference as if we'd beaten Wigan on Saturday or Hull or West Ham in a couple of weeks. Spurs is great but the real big games are these ones coming up."

Before those games there's the not unimportant matter of an FA Cup game against Crystal Palace. "I don't get to play in the FA Cup usually," he admits. "So hopefully I'll get to play this weekend. I was injured a bit with Reading and Steve Coppell always changed the team. I was out with the flu for the last game for Wolves where we did play our strongest team. So hopefully I'll get to play this weekend against Crystal Palace."

But just one place outside the relegation zone and on the same number of points (19) as Hull, the team below them, Kevin wonders if manager Mick McCarthy will be able to sign his one-time Reading team-mate Stephen Hunt from their rivals.

"It's up to Hull," he says. "They've said that financially they're under pressure. They might need money. Not only would he be a very good signing for us but, if we did get him, we'd be taking him off one of our rivals. He's one of their better players so maybe that's why it's a difficult one to see happening. But if we could get him that would be a massive boost to us.

"I've spoken to him but I don't know if he wants to come or not. If we could get him to us it would be a double whammy. Also, he seems to thrive on the excitement of a move."

The Adamstown man expressed his delight at seeing Shane Long score the extra-time goal for his former club Reading that knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

"It's been difficult for him," says Kevin. "When I left Reading he would have expected to be first choice. It's hard to live up to that straight away and he's had to get used to not having me and (Stephen) Hunt there. I was delighted for him. And against Liverpool as well. In front of the Kop. Hopefully it will kickstart his season. And Reading's season. It's not nice to see him, and players who are good enough, struggling at the bottom of the Championship. He's got everything there to be a top player.

"Skill, pace and he can score goals. You just need something to go your way sometimes.

"He had an injury as well which didn't help him. Hopefully he'll have a good second half to the season. He's got a good manager in Brian McDermott. If he stays there. He was over to sign me and Longy when we were younger. Hopefully it's a massive boost for him. He's in there to keep himself in the frame to play for Ireland obviously to get back in the Premier League. Obviously, he's played in the Premier League before. He's good enough to play for a top team."



Boost

Oh by the way Kevin, is there any truth in the rumour that the Irish players ganged up on coach Giovanni Trapattoni before Ireland's away match against France and told him they wanted to play a more free-flowing style of football?

"I've never heard that one before," splutters the Ireland striker. "That's not true. I don't think anyone could go to Mr Trapattoni and tell him that we wanted to play like that. I don't think he'd be in the team long. He's a manager who's extremely respected and has all the medals and success to go with that.

"There's no question of us questioning how we played or going to him like that. If there was I didn't see it. We watch videos and he goes through how he wants us to play. There was a point before the away game, we needed to score. There was a point he made to us of closing them down further up the pitch but I don't know of any of the lads going to him to make that point. That was his decision.

"He made a point against France of us pressing higher up the pitch and winning the ball off them higher up the pitch. That helped when we did win the ball. We were on the front foot and attacking more."

Thierry Henry may have ruined our summer but Kevin Doyle remains optimistic for the future.

"I know that hopefully if I play well and stay fit I'll have another chance of qualifying for a World Cup," he says. "Not that we'll get as good a chance again. We put ourselves in a great position to qualify and it didn't happen."