EVERTON defender Shane Duffy looks set to make his Republic of Ireland senior debut against Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday night.
Derry-born Duffy, whose father Brian is from Letterkenny, will join another man from the city, James McClean, in making his bow in the international friendly. The Sunderland winger is arguably the form player in the Irish squad since moving from Derry City last August.
“In this game we can make six changes so it will be a good opportunity to see players,” Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni said after Sunday’s training session at Malahide. “We have [Simon] Cox, [Jonathan] Walters and [Shane] Long in the strikers but Duffy and McClean can also play. Sure I have to decide first or wait for the second half but yes, sure, I will give them some time.”
It promises to be a busy night for football followers from the north-west. Lifford native Shay Given will win a record 121st cap, while Seamus Coleman from Killybegs will be hoping to make his first international appearance since last June, when Ireland defeated Italy 2-0 in Liege in Belgium, having recovered from a groin strain.
Two other men, Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy, who qualify for Ireland as a result of their ancestry from west Donegal, are also tipped to see some action in what is the last opportunity to impress Trapattoni before he names his 23-man squad for Euro 2012.
Trapattoni has already confirmed the actual squad for the finals will be announced in advance of the next friendlies, against Bosnia Herzegovina on May 26 and Hungary in Budapest on June 4.
Ireland play Croatia in Poznan on June 10 in their first game of Euro 2012 before taking on world and European champions Spain in Gdansk on June 14 before returning to Poznan to face Italy four days later.
Meanwhile, Kyle Callan McFadden from Ramelton was named as U-16 International Player of the Year at Sunday night’s award ceremony in Donnybrook. The teenager was previously on the books of his local Swilly Rovers club before joining Norwich City on a three-year scholarship.
Adrian Clarke from Lifford, who is now living in Raphoe, won the Football For All category. Clarke is the most senior player on the Donegal Special Olympics FC.
Coleman was also nominated for the FAI Young Player of the Year award with Cox, but Darren O’Dea took the plaudits, while Shaun McElwaine of Fanad United was on the shortlist for the FAI Intermediate Player of the Year, which Brendan O’Connell from Rockmount in Cork won.
Richard Dunne scooped the Senior International Player of the Year Award, while former midfielder, Ray Houghton, whose father was born in Buncrana, was inducted into the FAI Hall of Fame.