Saturday 19 January 2019

Horgan's chance as spies head for Vienna

Daryl Horgan
Daryl Horgan

The opportunity to become the first home-based player to win a senior Ireland cap in a competitive game in 31 years is all the motivation that Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle need, if called upon, in Vienna this evening

But the Ernst Happel Stadion could be as big a stage as possible for the duo, out of contract with Dundalk next month when their Europa League group stage ends - and we stress that's the end of the group phase but not necessarily the Europa League outright as progress to the last 32 is still achievable for the League of Ireland champions.

While TV sets all over Europe will be tuned into the Austria-Ireland game, as part of the standardised broadcasting of the Euro qualifiers, a batch of scouts have already asked to attend tonight's game in Vienna.

British clubs Manchester United, Newcastle United, Sunderland. Bristol City and Celtic will have people at the game in Vienna but so will a batch of German teams, as well as Marseille, Seville, Besiktas, PSV, Anderlecht.

We know all that because the extremely helpful media office of the Austrian FA made that information public, in stark contrast with the policy of the FAI's communications department who are unable, or unwilling, on a regular basis to inform the Irish public, via the Irish media, of which club matches Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane attend on a weekly basis. The chances of Boyle getting a run are slim, as if a defender is needed off the bench in Vienna, O'Neill is more likely to turn to Paul McShane, a player who deserves a medal for patience as his last taste of action in a competitive game for his country was back in 2009, away to France.

But, while he's unlikely to start, Horgan could get some game time off the bench as his recent form and fitness give him an edge over, say, Aiden McGeady,

Horgan is not short of offers for his next move and despite serious interest from the Championship, three MLS clubs are keen to take the Galway lad to the US while AZ Alkmaar are also staying updated.

But a run-out in a World Cup tie in Vienna would allow Horgan give those spies from PSV, Marseille and also the Bundesliga some food for thought.

The last time an LOI player won a competitive cap, Pat Byrne at home to Denmark in 1985, was also the game where Manchester United decided to buy John Sivebaek. The door, at least, is open for Horgan and Boyle.

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