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Kevin Foley Photo by: Google Images

Sports Digest: Irish defender Sean St. Ledger Sorry for Kevin Foley axe

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Kevin Foley Photo by: Google Images

Irish defender Sean St. Ledger has offered his sympathy to Wolves star Kevin Foley, axed from the Ireland squad at the last minute by manager Giovanni Trapattoni last week.

Trap opted to include Paul McShane and not Foley when he had to submit his final 23 man squad for the Euros tournament to UEFA.

Foley said he felt “betrayed” by Trapattoni and may not play for Ireland again as long as he is manager.

And St. Ledger said, “I am sure his emotions at the moment are taking over. I am sure he will have a word with his family and talk it over and I am sure he will make the right decision.

“And I think you just have to respect that if he doesn’t want to. I think all the boys want him to play again because he is a great lad and he is a very good player at the same time.

“His recent injury may just have come at the wrong time. He obviously proved his fitness but the manager made his decision and you just have to go with it.”

St. Ledger added, “It is tough because everyone really, really likes him. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong. And everyone feels for him.

“If it was me, I would be absolutely gutted and obviously he was very, very emotional. So it is a tough one to call.”
 
Bilic Respect

CROATIAN boss Slaven Bilic has denied rubbishing Ireland’s European Championships hopes and admits they will be formidable opponents in Poznan on Sunday.

Bilic was in the stands as Ireland drew 0-0 with Hungary in Budapest on Monday night.

He told Irish reporters afterwards, “In Croatia, someone has not twisted my words, but made it up like I said that you don’t have a good team and blah, blah.

“It’s totally nonsense. I have big respect for your team -- we played against your team last summer.
“It’s an unbelievably competitive team. They are very solid, they play very simple football, they don’t take a lot of risks.

“But they are still dangerous enough with some really good forwards -- two strikers and two wide men who are very quick. One on one, they can decide a game.”

A former teammate of Richard Dunne’s at Everton, Bilic was impressed with the Irish defender again on Monday.

He added, “It’s very hard to get a clear chance against them. Richard Dunne is a leader, he’s the organizer. He’s a great player.”

“I admire him. He was young when we played together at Everton but you could see he was going to the big stage and the big time, and I’m so glad for him. He’s a great guy.”
 
Holy Trap

IRELAND boss Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed that he will sprinkle Holy Water around the team dug-out at the 2012 European Championship finals.

Trap said: “Yes, I will do it, I will sprinkle it everywhere. It’s not so God will help us to win but to offer us protection against jinxes.”
 
Soccer Shorts

BIRMINGHAM boss Chris Hughton is no longer wanted by West Brom as their new manager but Norwich are keen to talk to him about their vacancy after Paul Lambert’s departure for Aston Villa . . .

CELTIC have confirmed that coach Alan Thompson was sacked over the phone by manager Neil Lennon on Sunday. Thompson is now taking legal action against the club . . .

IRELAND’S under-21 side drew 2-2 with Italy in a Euro Championship qualifier in Sligo on Monday afternoon when Robbie Brady and Greg Cunningham got the goals . . .

ULSTERMAN Brendan Rodgers is the new manager of Premier League giants Liverpool.

Healy Fit

LEINSTER prop Cian Healy is fit to play for Ireland in their first summer test against New Zealand at Auckland Park on Saturday, but fellow front rower Mike Ross is a major doubt.

Healy returned to training on Monday to prove his fitness to coach Declan Kidney ahead of the opening game of Ireland’s tour.

Ireland are given little or no chance of beating the world champions, but full-back Rob Kearney believes they can take inspiration from last year’s World Cup win over Australia when they face the All Blacks.
He said, “It was a huge occasion for us to turn over Australia in a World Cup.

“As players, we always believe that we can match it with the best teams in the world when we turn up and we play good rugby. As a player and as a team, you have to believe that.

“There wasn’t a huge element of surprise for us (afterwards) as a group of players. What’s important for us is that we keep trying to reproduce that form.

“We set a bar there in that game, a standard, and it is important for us to keep matching that.”

Ireland have never beaten New Zealand but the Leinster full-back added, “Saturday is our best chance to beat them because it is our next chance. And if the first test doesn’t go our way then the one after that will be our best chance again after that.”
 
O’Brien Double

IRISH trainer Aidan O’Brien and his teenage son Joseph made history as Camelot moved a step closer to flat racing’s Triple Crown with a stunning win in the English Derby at Epsom.

The pair became the first father and son partnership in history to win the biggest race of the flat calendar to add the Derby to the 2000 Guineas title.

Now a tilt at the St. Leger and the treble awaits for the horse brilliantly steered home by 19-year-old Joseph to the delight of his watching father.

Joseph was happy to sit towards the rear for much of the mile-and-a-half journey, beginning to make headway on the outside of the field rounding the home turn before a burst of speed that secured a five-length success.

Winning jockey Joseph said, “I was a bit worried as he didn’t come down the hill at all. He didn’t handle the track that well, so he did well to win.

“He’s a very special horse and I’m just very fortunate to be on his back.”

Aidan O’Brien said, “You can’t even dream of days like this.

“I was always happy, I know Joseph’s body language by now and he looked confident.

“No one can describe the feeling, things like this don’t happen. We’ll give the Triple Crown a lot of thought and the boys will make a decision and do whatever is best for the horse.

“The Triple Crown would be incredible.”

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