Sunday, December 3, 2023

Rep of Ireland vs New Zealand – LIVE updates as McClean set for final cap

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JAMES McClean is set for his 103rd and final cap as Republic of Ireland host New Zealand tonight in Dublin.

The Wrexham star is set to hang up his boots from international football in Ireland’s final game of the calendar year.


James McClean is set to make his final appearance for Ireland in tonight’s game against New Zealand
Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny's future his yet to be decided by the FAI


Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny’s future his yet to be decided by the FAI

Derry native McClean”s international career spanned 11-years from 2012 – 2023.

Tonight’s friendly clash at Aviva Stadium may also be Ireland manager Stephen Kenny’s final game in charge.

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny repeated yesterday that he had been told that no decision on his future would be taken until next week.

He may have wondered about taking that at face value when the FAI’s X account posted a speech bubble from him featuring a quote which included: ‘If it is my last game, so be it’.

It was later deleted, presumably when the merits of an employer carrying a quote about a worker speculating about whether he would have a job in a week’s time were more carefully considered.

The association’s board meet next Tuesday where they will assess director of football Marc Canham’s review of the Euro 2024 campaign.

If his side beat New Zealand tonight, he surely will become the first Ireland manager since John Giles in 1980 to win their final game in charge.

His side had a shocking EURO 2024 campaign as they registered just two wins from eight games – those victories both came against Gibraltar.

And ahead of his final game for Ireland, James McClean believes the best sides are in a different league to the Boys in Green — and it will not change without support for the League of Ireland.

And McClean warned that without financial backing for the LOI, things will not change.

The former Derry City star said: “The pretty obvious one is there’s two better teams. Greece beat us home and away so could argue they’re better as well but France and Holland . . . it was always going to be a major task.

“If anyone thinks we’re better than France and Holland, the reality is we aren’t.

“This is probably a domestic thing to be honest. You look at our domestic league compared to theirs, you look at the head start they have.

“We don’t have that in this country in a sense. We need more funding.”

McClean’s final game for Ireland gets underway at 7:45pm from Dublin.


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