MAN and boy, Paul McShane has been a fan of the big day out that is the FA Cup final.
And today, at the headquarters of the English game, the man from Wicklow hopes he will get an opportunity to line out on that big stage.
Wembley is nothing new to the Hull City man, as he has played there before, in the colours of West Brom. Back in February, when he was struck down with an ankle injury which threatened to finish his season, a Cup run, never mind a showdown with Arsenal on the last big day of the club season in England, was far from his mind.
But determination and hard work has left the Ireland defender in with a chance, at least, of making it into Steve Bruce’s side for the final, McShane making his comeback from injury on the last day of the Premier League season against Everton.
“Cup finals were always a big deal to me when I was a kid, when you’re 10 or 11 it’s a massive thing to sit down and watch the FA Cup final. I followed United at the time so I’d have seen them in a few FA Cup finals. It was always a good buzz around the day when I was growing up in Ireland and it’s great to be part of it,” McShane told The Herald yesterday, just before the Hull squad began their journey to London for the final.
“I said all along that if we had a decent enough start to the Cup we could easily go all the way and end up in the final. We are here now and we just want to focus on the job.
“We’re not just here to make up the numbers, since we are here we want to have a real go at winning it,” added McShane, proud that he managed to complete his recovery from injury and surgery to make it into the squad.
“When I was out injured the aim always was to get back in for the last couple of games, and I am just thankful to be back playing at all because when the injury happened I thought I’d be out for a long time, but the rehab went well, better than expected, and I am just happy to be available to the manager and be able to even prepare for the final. Whether I play or am only on the bench, it’s just great to be a part of it as I didn’t expect this to happen,” he confesses.
Bruce has a few calls to make on his team and bench selection, especially in terms of his Irish contingent, as only David Meyler is guaranteed a start.
So McShane and his fellow injury victim Robbie Brady may have to settle for a place on the bench, along with Dubliner Stephen Quinn, who has already been to Wembley - twice on the losing side for Sheffield United in a promotion playoff final.
McShane came back to play against Everton last week and has trained well all week, so he feels ready - if called upon.
“I feel fine now. I don’t know if I will be starting, but I just want to be involved in some way,” he admits.
“I am realistic enough to know that it’s a big ask to go into the side for such a big game after 12-13 weeks out, but you never know. I will prepare myself on the basis that I am playing and it would be great to be involved in some shape or form.
“It’s hard to know how many of the Irish boys will start, Meyler will probably be in the XI that starts. It’s up to the gaffer then about myself, Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn.
“Robbie is back in training now and he wants to be involved. He had a big operation and it seemed like his season was gone but he’s looked sharp in training this week and, like myself, you never know.”
While those four have a chance of featuring, compatriot Shane Long watches from the stands as he’s cup tied, a big frustration for the club.
“Shane will be missed, he has scored some big goals for us this season and it’s a real pity he is cup-tied,” says McShane.
Whatever happens today the season has been a success for Hull, with a place in the Europa League next term already guaranteed but McShane says that motivation is still on their side.
“We are in Europe already but that’s not to say that we will sit back and enjoy that, we are just 90 minutes away from a major trophy and a medal for us as players. So many players go through their careers and never win anything, so to be so close to a Cup medal is great and I know I am desperate to go all the way and win it.”