herald

Monday 21 May 2018

In-form Randolph plans to continue winning streak

Darren Randolph
Darren Randolph

As a boy growing up in Wicklow, Peter Schmeichel was the goalkeeper that a young Darren Randolph looked up to. The current Ireland No 1 has even admitted that he had some of those jerseys with 'Schmeichel' on the back.

Over the next two games, it's Randolph's job to make sure that there will be no Schmeichel shirts on view, either on the pitch worn by son Kasper or in the stands by Danish fans, at the World Cup finals in Russia.

"I was a Man United fan growing up and he was the keeper, so I would have had his name on the back of a few jerseys," says Randolph, certain to win his 27th cap in Copenhagen on Saturday night, admitting he's also a fan of Schmeichel Junior.

"He's done very well. I played against him back when he was at Man City and at different places when he was out on loan and he has obviously been at Leicester as well," he says.

"He has played for his country and he has got a Premier League medal as well to add to the family so he is his own man."

Times have been good for Randolph and given recent events at West Ham, the side's slide towards relegation and the sacking of Slaven Bilic, it seems that the Bray lad dodged a bullet when he left the Hammers in the summer and joined Middlesbrough.

Things are also going well at international level, though the 30-year-old is holding off on celebrations until the play-off is done.

"People were saying congratulations," he says of the draw with Denmark.

"I think it was probably the one everyone wanted when you look at the teams that were in the draw. I don't know what it was like for them - maybe they were the same? Maybe they wanted us instead of anyone else? I think it's the best draw we could have hoped for.

"But it's still the play-offs, we haven't actually got to the World Cup yet. It's a good achievement but we still have this game to go. There was not much point in celebrating after that."

He has had cause to smile with Boro, however. "I am coming in on the back of three wins in a week so good form," he says.

Randolph kept a clean sheet in the game which set up this play-off, that 1-0 win in Cardiff, where Ireland managed to grind out a victory with little possession while then absorbing late pressure and he knows there could be a repeat in Denmark.

"It probably suited us, putting the balls in the box," he says of Wales.

"Cyrus can head it, Clarkey is good in the air, Wardy is another one. We dealt with it quite comfortably. It's what most of the boys deal with on a weekly basis at their clubs as well.

"When you think about it, that's been the case for most of our games. Obviously we are not a possession team so we'll go there, stay organised and get a result to bring back to the Aviva," he says.

"Because of our away form with this group, everyone is confident going into this game and getting the away leg first, like what we did against Bosnia."

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