herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

Greg wants out of cold storage

Cunningham is still upbeat even after Cardiff relegation

Greg Cunningham feels he has plenty more to give on the pitch at the age of 28
Greg Cunningham feels he has plenty more to give on the pitch at the age of 28

He was, once upon a time, good enough to be selected by big-name coaches like Giovanni Trapattoni and Roberto Mancini.

A decade on from his early outings in the Premier League and on the international stage, the Ireland career of defender Greg Cunningham is still in cold storage.

And despite a frustrating season at club level, where he played fleetingly for a Cardiff City side who were relegated, the Galway native hopes that a recall from Mick McCarthy can open the door to an Ireland career once again.

In the summer of 2010, things were really looking up for Cunningham as he'd made his Premier League debut for Mancini's City side and was capped for the first time by Ireland, an appearance against Lionel Messi's Argentina to soon follow.

Flurry

But since that flurry of three caps in 2010, Cunningham has played for Ireland just once.

"It's been stop start, you could say, but that's how football goes sometimes. It's always an honour to get a call-up when I can," says Cunningham, part of the Ireland squad training in Portugal.

"A few injuries that stopped me in my tracks but that's part and parcel of the game. You have to stay mentally strong, do your work and make sure you come back stronger for it.

"I'm only 28 and I believe my best years are ahead of me. If called upon, I'll do what I can but it's about being consistent, getting back into games at club level and going from there," added Cunningham.

Stephen Ward owned the left back slot with Ireland for a long spell but while Enda Stevens seems to have taken over, Cunningham wants to challenge.

"I have been out in the cold on the international front for a few years now so it's nice to get in," he says.

"Enda has had a great season with Sheffield United and he's a great player so there is nice competition for me to try to get in and see if I can get into squads and get on the pitch and do what I can."

This season was a frustrating one as Cunningham barely played (just seven games) as Cardiff were demoted.

"It was very frustrating from a personal point of view, and disappointing for the club as well. They did so well to get promoted but the season didn't go as planned.

"But in saying that, it was a good experience for me and it's given me that hunger to get back playing in the Premier League on a more consistent basis. It was a good opportunity," he said, frustrated with the lack of game time under Neil Warnock.

"I don't go in banging doors down but we had a chat and I asked what I could improve on and what I've done wrong and where he sees I can get back into the team.

"I still worked hard and kept my head down and waited for my chance. I kept working and we'll see what happens for next year."

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