The Irish Mail on Sunday
McGeady agrees he hasn’t delivered in the green jersey
THE EA Sports PR ladies are apologetic but firm. The media sessions are running behind schedule and the Sunday newspapers slot with Aiden McGeady (below) is restricted to ten minutes, no more.
Ten minutes? It’s nowhere near enough, not for a 64-cap stalwart of the Irish team, who’s played under four managers and has never been backward about coming forward with an opinion.
The limits mean there’s no point in pussy-footing around with pleasantries about the family, for reflections on the Russia experiment, or how he’s settling in at Everton.
It’s about wading in, with an over-the-top challenge; the sort McGeady has been used to as a dancing firefly on the flanks since he was a kid turning heads and twisting defenders at Celtic.
Aiden, it’s ten years since your first match h for Ireland, have you delivered? red?
There is a blink k but not much more for McGeady is a steely character, er, rarely fazed by the unexpected. expected.
He makes a light ght joke about being provoked voked to ‘try and say something mething controversial’ but ut doesn’t flinch and nd gives a thoughtful ful answer.
‘In spells yes, but I’ve probably not ot overall delivered, no. ‘I’d like to say “yeah I’ve been brilliant every single game for Ireland” but I’ve not been,’ he e says with candour.
Asked to explain ain why he has been productive e in spells, he pauses for a moment ment and then goes on the attack ck in his reply, as if he has the ball at his feet.
‘For instance, in the first three or four years ars with Ireland, I hardly y played. It was only when Trap (Trapattoni) became came manager I started ed to play.’
It’s a valid point. nt. For his first two years, he averaged less than 15 minutes a game. ‘In the (2012) Euro qualifying campaign, I felt I did well, had a good campaign. Obviously, Euros weren’t great. Since then, it’s been here and there,’ he said.
Warming to the theme, he argues he has not been alone in living up to expectations.
‘Who really is totally consistent? Who has delivered?Apart from five or six names who has delivered? That’s my question thrown back at you,’ he said.
Instantly, contemporaries of McGeady are reeled off: Keane, Duff, Dunne and Given. He nods in agreement.
Nor does he dispute his ability to turn games on their head, like the send-off to the Euro finals two summers ago where McGeady’s magic bamboozled Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin.
He was fresh then, and he’s fresh now as he had a mid-season break before his transfer to Everton was sealed.
Whereas many others are tired, the four Irish games coming up are tailor-made for McGeady who lacked sharpness and condition when he arrived on Merseyside in January.
Just turned 28, he’s targeting another two campaigns, maybe more, with the Republic of Ireland. And when it’s over he would like to reflect on his body of work and think ‘yeah, I did ok’.
‘It’d be amazing to get 100 caps, we’ll see. You say about delivering, but getting 60-odd caps is a great achievement,’ he said.
Much has been made of his relationship with his former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill, whom he acknowledges has ‘the tools’ to get the best out of him. And if that doesn’t doesn’ work, then there is always Roy Keane. It’s typical of McG McGeady’s personality tha that he stood his gro ground when Kea Keane was cr critical of him ab about his end p product for Ir Ireland prior t to becoming t the assistant m manager. ‘Things are absolutel absolutely fine with Roy,’ smi smiled McGeady McGeady. ‘I just said it to him a about that on his first da day – “you’re on our side now, you can’t slaugh slaughter us in the press.”
‘He said “y “you weren’t bothered abou about all that stuff, were you you?” I said “no, I was just kidding.” ‘Roy’s been gr great, he’s been encouragin encouraging, very positive with a dry sense of humour.’ Yet, Keane still has the potential to ‘slaughter ‘slaughter’, hasn’t he?
‘I’ve not seen it yet, but he’s had a couple of moments in training where (takes deep bre breath), he’s building up a bit, but he’s not gone off on one yet,’ said a smiling McGeady.
‘I saw him at Celtic as well, and there was one time this player was running around, and he gave the ball away a few times, and Roy was just on him, and he ended up just chasing him himself, not even touching the ball. He just absolutely killed him.
‘He demanded everyone to be doing well in training. When you’re in the wrong, and someone has a go at you, fair enough you take it, but after a couple of times, you can have a bite back.’
McGeady’s bark is often worse than his bite. What’s not in dispute, and never has, is his passion to play, and to perform, for Ireland.