Saturday 18 January 2020

Ward insists dark night is in the past

Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward

It was anything but the ideal send-off to the Dublin crowd, a 5-1 humiliation and the end of the World Cup dream, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

Stephen Ward's second-last cap, and his final appearance in a home game, was in the 5-1 loss to Denmark two years ago, not how he wanted to go out, but the veteran feels that the current squad have to ignore what happened that night and focus on beating the Danes tonight.

"You try to forget about these things, it was a tough night, everything that could go wrong did go wrong," Ward says.

"We had a lot of good times over the last few years and it ended in a bad way, but you can't keep looking back in football, we have a new management team, some new players and we need to focus on that. I don't think I have ever played in a game where there was a complete collapse in the second half. It's still hard to explain.

"They had a world-class player who was putting the ball in the net from any angle he liked, it was a hard one to take but it's more than 18 months ago and the lads will move forward, a new campaign that's had a good start and I hope the lads can carry that on.

"I know the way the lads work and I have been told the mood now is very positive. I've worked with Mick before so I know what he is like, we had some great times under the previous manager with Ireland and I hope Mick is a success, too."

Meanwhile, Ward is unsure of his next move after he was released by Burnley, but the 33-year-old plans to carry on playing, probably in the Championship.

"I'm not stressed about it, I am happy to sit tight, enjoy a bit of time off with the family, once the middle of June comes around I'll look at it but I have been enjoying a break from it all," says Ward.

"There is more to come from me, I will play on for as long as I can. I read Glenn Whelan's interview, he said when you get to a certain age people think it's the end for you but I know I can play again at a good level."

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