Mick McCarthy – Connolly deserves his chance

Mick McCarthy has come in for some criticism in recent times on his squad, and in turn, team selections for the Republic of Ireland, with some believing the Irish manager is weighed down at times in a conservative approach to the Irish set-up.

If the Troy Parrott situation can be weighed up and argued in equal measure for both sides of the argument – and there are good arguments for both his inclusion and not, in the senior set-up – the pressure on McCarthy to give proper recognition to Aaron Connolly, was quickly gathering momentum.

The Connolly argument was already with his merits, on the basis that he had already played for Brighton on four occasions before yesterday. But when Graham Potter decided to include the forward ahead of Yves Bissouma for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur, ripples of excitement spread across social media, for those of an interest.

By the end of a performance that saw the 19-year-old turn in a man of the match performance and a return of two goals, the second of which was of considerable dexterity, the pressure for McCarthy to include Connolly was building to something of a crescendo.

That it happened as quickly as it did, wasn’t too much of a surprise considering the proximity of the upcoming fixtures away to Georgia and Switzerland, but the announcement on Saturday evening that Connolly was in the squad, fitted just perfectly in the dramatic narrative of a day, for the player as an individual, that must have been quite surreal.

Speaking to the FAI official website, McCarthy recognised yesterday’s achievement, equally recognising his own previous declaration that first team football will be rewarded.

“The first bonus this weekend was to see so many of our players start for their clubs and the second bonus was the fact that some of them scored as well. Aaron grabbed the headlines with those two goals for Brighton and he is now in the squad.

“I’ve said all along that any young player who is getting first team football and playing well would be a real contender for the squad for these games. Aaron has got into the Brighton team, played well and scored so he deserves this chance.”