\"Damien

Damien Duff retires from Ireland's soccer team Photo by: Google Images

Soccer Digest: Giovanni Trapattoni finalizes changes Irish team for World Cup opener

\"Damien

Damien Duff retires from Ireland's soccer team Photo by: Google Images

Changed Irish Team for Cup Opener

Giovanni Trapattoni has finally received a World Cup boost with confirmation that Richard Dunne is to continue with Ireland, just days after Damien Duff retired from international football.

Dunne met Trapattoni in England on Saturday when he told the Italian that he wants to help Ireland to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

But Duff, who won his 100th cap at Euro 2012, is to retire and concentrate on his club football with Fulham.

The FAI confirmed Dunne’s decision in a statement released on Saturday. It read, “Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli held a positive meeting with Richard Dunne.

“Richard reconfirmed that he will be available again for international duty once he makes a full recovery from his current injury.”

Dunne, 33 next month, has won 76 caps for Ireland and scored eight goals.

He will miss the World Cup opener in Kazakhstan next month after undergoing groin surgery.

His decision to stay on follows confirmation that Robbie Keane will also play for Ireland in the bid to reach Brazil and the 2014 finals.

But Duff and Shay Given will be watching the qualification effort on TV after both veterans retired in the wake of a disappointing Euro finals effort.

Duff told the Football Association of Ireland’s website, “I found it very difficult to make this decision, not least for the respect in which I hold Giovanni Trapattoni.

“I have enjoyed so many good times in the green jersey and want to thank everyone involved, especially the fans for making the last 14 years so special.

“I want to wish Giovanni, Marco Tardelli and everyone involved with the Irish team every success for the future and will be supporting them every step of the way.”

Trapattoni said, “Damien will be missed by us and by Irish fans everywhere.

“He was immensely skilful and a great example to the players who come after him. I give him my warmest best wishes for his future career.”

FAI boss John Delaney added, “I have no doubt that Damien Duff will go down in history as one of Ireland’s greatest ever players.

“He has been an extraordinary servant to his country and has given us all some wonderful memories as well as being a true gentleman. Thank you Damien and all the best for the future.”

Trapattoni has named a 23-man squad for the Republic of Ireland’s opening 2014 World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan in Astana on September 7.

The same players will then play against Oman in a friendly fixture at Craven Cottage in London just four days later.

“It is important to get off to a good start at the opening match of our 2014 campaign,” Trapattoni said.

“Kazakhstan is a good side who have caused difficulties at home for a number of leading teams, but we know our strengths and will be relying on them when we travel to Astana in September.
“We will be without Damien Duff who has been a truly great player for his country. I thank Damien for his immense contribution and hope his professionalism and dedication will be an inspiration to the wingers who are now emerging in his place.”

Republic of Ireland: Westwood, Forde, Randolph, Wilson, O’Shea, St. Ledger, O’Dea, Ward, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, McCarthy, Whelan, Coleman, O’Brien, McGeady, Keogh, McClean, Keane, Doyle, Long, Cox, Walters.
 
Celtic Wins

Celtic manager Neil Lennon was delighted with youngster Tony Watt as the teenager scored twice in a 4-2 win over Inverness.

Watt marked his first league start for the club with a man of the match performance as Gary Hooper’s new strike partner.

Praising the pair afterwards, manager Lennon said, “They were sensational. Tony gives us something a little bit different.

“He is prepared to go in behind, has a physical presence, and is prepared to run at people. He does a lot of unselfish running. He was a real handful for two pretty strong center-halves today.
“Gary just kept going into the pockets and picking up the ball deep and starting a lot of attacks off. I’m really, really pleased with their performances.”

Victor Wanyama and Charlie Mulgrew also scored for Celtic ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League showdown with Helsingborgs with the Bhoys 2-0 up from the first leg in Sweden.

Meanwhile, Swansea have signed Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-yueng for an undisclosed club record fee, subject to a work permit and international clearance.
 
Soccer Shorts

ITALIA ’90 hero Kevin Sheedy is to undergo surgery for bowel cancer but has pledged to return to work as youth team coach at Everton. “It’s not ideal but I have to remain positive,” said Sheedy. “After a period of rehabilitation I will return to my coaching role at Everton.”. . . 

SHAMROCK Rovers will take on Dublin rivals Shelbourne in the quarterfinals of the FAI Cup next month. In the remaining games, St. Patrick’s Athletic meet Drogheda, Bohs will host Dundalk and Derry City will welcome the winners of the Waterford United and Mervue clash . . .

EVERTON and Aston Villa have been linked with Irish striker Kevin Doyle, while teammate Stephen Hunt has been told he can leave Wolves if the right offer comes in . . .

SEAN St. Ledger has returned to action with Leicester City and will be fit for Ireland’s World Cup opener in Kazakhstan next month . . . 

WATFORD’S Irish winger Mark Yeates could move to Crystal Palace or Leeds before the transfer window closes on Friday . . .

SLIGO Rovers moved a step closer to the League of Ireland title with a scoreless draw against high-flying St. Pat’s . . . 

FORMER Irish striker Daryl Murphy is to return to Ipswich Town on loan from Celtic in a season long deal . . .

NOTTS County’s Irish winger Alan Judge is attracting interest from Ipswich Town, Hull City and Reading . . .

COVENTRY City have appointed Lee Carsley as caretaker boss after sacking manager Andy Thorn.
Harrington Nixed

PADRAIG Harrington will support Europe from afar at the Ryder Cup in Medinah in Chicago at the end of the month – but he has no complaints after captain Jose Maria Olazabal picked Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and England’s Ian Poulter as his two wild cards.

Graeme McDowell and world number one Rory McIlroy will now fly the flag for Irish golf when the Ryder Cup returns to American soil.

Harrington took a call from Olazabal with the bad news on Sunday night, but it didn’t come as a surprise to the three time Major winner.

He admitted, “The dogs in the street knew I wasn’t getting a pick so it wasn’t a hard phone call whatsoever.

“If you don’t qualify automatically you can’t have any regrets, you just can’t. It’s a hard team to make now unless you are starting from a very strong position.

“If you’re consistent going in and you’re in the right events, you can make it in there but this year I needed to have a big performance and I didn’t have it.

“It was a polite phone call from Jose. I wasn’t disappointed in the phone call. I was disappointed two or three weeks ago when it came out at the PGA that I wasn’t in the running.

“But it made my last two weeks stress-free compared to two years ago with Monty, when there were four of us going for three places and it was very distracting.”

With Paul McGinley favorite to lead Europe at Gleneagles in two years time, Harrington is already aiming to make that team.

He added, “It’s nearly a given that we’ll have an Irish captain the next time as well. Which one? That’s the question.

“I’d be rooting for Paul and thinking that Darren Clarke will get it after that. Will they give it to two Irish guys in a row? We’ll see, but they will definitely give it to Darren at some stage.

“My 2014 campaign starts next year and I know I am going to play plenty more Ryder Cups. I feel like I am playing great golf and everything is really good going forward.”

Harrington also revealed to the Irish Independent that his 2003 spat with Olazabal was never mentioned in the call.

“That was more a topic for Jose to be asked about in recent weeks than it was for me,” he claimed.
Dubliner McGinley and Tyrone’s Clarke will serve as vice-captains to Olazabal in Medinah.

Sports Shorts

CRICKET: Ireland have had to abandon their Twenty20 series warm-up games against South Africa due to heavy rainfall in Dublin . . .

RACING: Meath jockey Barry Geraghty celebrated the one thousandth winner of his career at Cork on Sunday . . .

RUGBY: New Zealand legend Doug Howlett has succeeded Paul O’Connell as captain of the Munster team . . .

RUGBY: Gavin Duffy will continue as Connacht captain for the new season.

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