'Licence to roam' a major boost for revitalised McGeady

21 November 2013 03:45

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'Licence to roam' a major boost for revitalised McGeady

If anything, the feel-good factor caused by Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane's appointment is strengthening by the day. Two games, two reasonably impressive performances and a couple of clean sheets have improved everyone's mood.

In particular, the Irish dressing-room, not renowned as the cheeriest place in world football, is upbeat again, the memories of the Trapattoni era fading as the players respond to the unusual experience of listening to a management team who speak their language.

"There's a bit of freshness there, alright," said Aiden McGeady, a chief beneficiary of the regime change. "Almost everyone's place is up for grabs, so we all want to prove ourselves. On a personal level, I'm loving it. Yes, it is early days but the gaffer likes his wingers to be positive and have a go at the full-back.

"The way we're playing now, I have more of a licence to roam infield, which is something I do for my club and it is way better than standing out on the touchline.

"I wouldn't take anything away from Trapattoni, but they (O'Neill and Keane) have given me a little bit more of a boost because they obviously believe in me. Trapattoni probably felt the same. He just wasn't as vocal about it."

Neither O'Neill nor Keane have ever been shy about speaking up, yet minds as well as mouths have been open this week as the managerial duo have quietly, but persistently asked players for their input on the more trivial everyday issues which affect a group of adults forced into living on top of one another.

Their purpose is to achieve a happier camp and, after 10 days getting to know one another, success hasn't just been confined to the pitch.

"All the players have been saying the same thing because the atmosphere is fantastic. The feedback coming back from the manager has been informative and that has shown in the games.

"There is a different vibe about the place, I suppose, because the voices are fresh. That is what happens whenever a new manager comes in, you get that boost."

On Tuesday, during the half-time break, it was Keane who provided the pick-me-up, his motivational team talk delivering the necessary steeliness which teams require when they seek results on the road.

"Concentration was the key theme," said Kelly. "Roy kept saying the clean sheet is paramount. And to have got a clean sheet in a stadium like that, on such a terrible pitch – from a defender's point of view, was particularly pleasing."

So too, on a personal level for Kelly, was the chance to banish a ghost which has followed him around since June last year, when he spent two weeks in Poland but never got a chance to play in the European Championships. That Poznan, venue for two of Ireland's games in that tournament, should be revisited, had a therapeutic impact on the Dubliner.

"My Euro memories aren't great. To not play in the finals after playing a big part in the team getting there is one of the biggest disappointments of my career.

"It is one of those things I'll always be looking back on, and hopefully I'll get the opportunity to go to another one and make amends. But it was very tough to take.

"While the atmosphere was amazing and you can only look back on that aspect of the experience fondly, there will always be that thing in my mind that I didn't get the opportunity to play. As a footballer, if you're not playing, you're not going to be too happy."

That belongs to the past, though. In the here and now, everyone is smiling again. A winter of content lies ahead.

Source: independent.ie

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