He added, “There were goose bumps and it was a tremendous reception. It is something that I’ve dreamed of since I was a boy. It is something that will live with me for the rest of my life.”
Irish striker Shane Long believes Giovanni Trapattoni will have a selection headache when it comes to picking his wingers for the European Championships after McClean staked his claim for a spot.
With Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady and Stephen Hunt already in the squad, Long is excited by the new competition for places.
He said, “It’s brilliant. They are obviously top quality players, and seeing him with my own eyes this week in training, James, he can deliver a ball from anywhere.
“You know when he gets it, you just have to make a run and he will find you. We have different options on the wings and it’s a problem for the manager coming up to the Euros.”
Trapattoni said after the draw that McClean’s late introduction was a “reward.”
The Italian added, “It was a reward for him and McGeady and Duff were doing well so there was no need to change and I wanted to show them my confidence, but I told McClean I wanted to play with him in the future also.
“We have time, every week we have injury or not, so what happens is we will continue with our team, so at the end of the league we have time to decide.”
CELTIC’S long winning run finally came to an end in the 1-1 draw at Aberdeen on Saturday, but midfielder Joe Ledley is backing the Scottish Champions elect to bounce back.
Anthony Stokes gave Celtic an early lead in their search for a 21st straight domestic win, but his goal was cancelled out when Hoops debutant Andre Blackman turned the ball past his own goalkeeper as he tried to block a Gavin Rae shot.
Ledley said: “We obviously wanted to continue our form and get the win but it didn’t happen for us against Aberdeen. We know we didn’t perform as well as we can do. The record has gone but there are still trophies to be won.
“It shows just how far we have come as a team that we are disappointed with a point. We have to give credit to Aberdeen as they played some good football. We know we have to bounce back with a win next weekend.”
Celtic boss Neil Lennon refused to criticize his players for their performance in the lunchtime game.
He said, “I don’t know who scheduled the game but that has certainly not done us any favors. I think that has played as much part as Aberdeen’s performance in this run ending.
“The result is no surprise considering the call-offs and the schedules that the players have had this week with international games. It is obvious that they are tired, mentally and physically.
“I’m not overly disappointed, in fact I’m immensely proud of the players for the run they have been on.”
THE Irish players have accepted an offer from the FAI for bonus payments after qualifying for the European Championships – and will receive less than the 2002 World Cup squad.
An FAI statement confirmed, “The Football Association of Ireland and the players have confirmed that they agreed qualification bonuses after a constructive and brief meeting.
“During the discussions, the players emphasized the immense honor and pride which they feel in representing the country through this and previous campaigns.
“The players thanked the FAI for their professionalism and preparations which are made around the international squad.
“In recognition of the wider economic climate, the players were happy to agree to a reduction in qualification payments made in 2002.
“On behalf of all strands of the sport, the Football Association of Ireland thanks the players for their readiness to accept a reduction.”
SHAMROCK Rovers got their defense of the Airtricity League crown off to a perfect start as two Gary Twigg goals secured a 2-1 win away to Drogheda United on Friday night.
Sligo left it late to draw 1-1 with Shels at Tolka Park, UCD surprised Cork City 1-0, Monaghan and
Dundalk played out a scoreless draw and St. Pat’s beat Bray 1-0. Derry won 1-0 at home to Bohs in the remaining Premier Division fixture.
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