Thursday, November 21, 2019

BY the time you read this we will know whether Ireland have qualified for Euro 2020 or if we have to go through the dreaded play-offs to make it.

Only a win will do against Denmark who are unbeaten in three years and, at the time of writing, I believe we can win the game. It might come down to a set-piece or a bit of magic, but I do believe Ireland can raise their game and get the job done.

Hopefully I’m right because it would be great to be preparing for a major championship next June and not looking on enviously as other nations come to Dublin to play in the tournament.

For ourselves at Newport County, we have a big game tomorrow night (Wednesday) in the FA Cup at home to Grimsby in a replay. A lot has happened between the drawn game and this one as Grimsby have sacked their manager and this will be the first game under the guidance of their caretaker management team.

We don’t know how much they will change style or personnel so we will have to prepare for every eventuality.

The game is on television which is a great bonus for the club as the money from live FA Cup games is quite significant. There is also the added bonus of the next round also being live on BBC so I know those involved in running the club will be hoping we can win this game in particular for financial reasons.

The players haven’t even mentioned the second-round draw because we don’t want to take our eyes off the Grimsby game.

It’s an important game for us because we lost our last home game and it was the first home game we had lost in quite a while so we want to go back on another long unbeaten home run and there is no better time to start.

On Saturday we have another home game against Oldham Athletic. They have also had a change of manager recently and they have picked up some very positive results since then. They are still languishing towards the bottom of the table though and I’m very surprised by that because they have some very good players in their ranks. Probably the most well-known is former Burnley midfielder Chris McCann who has just come back from the MLS where he was playing for the champions: Atlanta United.

We had no league game last weekend because of international call-ups so we now have two games in hand. If we win both of them we can go top of the league so it’s important we get back to winning ways in the league to keep with the pace of the leaders.

It is always hard playing catch up, but we have a of experience of that from last year when we had our FA Cup run so hopefully we can use that to our advantage. We will have the players who have been away with their respective international teams available for both games this week which is a massive help but, more importantly, two players who have had long-term injuries are also back fit which will be a massive boost to the squad. It will strengthen us at the right time because with re-arranged games, December looks like it is going to be probably the busiest month of the season for us. We could have as many as 10 games in a very short space of time.

On a personal level I was delighted to have signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract last week with the club. Since I have joined Newport County, I have loved practically every minute of it, and it has been a great two years so far.

We have a great set of players and a brilliant manager and staff, so it has been a very easy environment to come into and work every day.

Everybody in the area has made me feel very welcome which always helps and myself and Caoimhe have settled very well here.

The club has progressed a lot in the time I have been here both on and off the pitch and I’m hoping I can play a big part in continuing that success for at least another two-and-a-half years.


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