One of the excessive sports tiers from 2021 was the way Athboy footballer Jamie McGrath appeared to become a full-fledged international footballer who now has six senior caps to his name. McGrath made the step up and didn’t look out of place and still only in his mid-twenties expectantly there will be many more games Republic of Ireland Football World Cup team.
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Yet while McGrath has thrived on the international front, another Meath player Darragh Lenihan has been left out in the taciturn. Forgotten. I was in turnout at the Aviva Stadium back in 2018 when the Dunboyne man-made antiquity when, on the 33rd minute, he was sent on by the then Republic of Ireland Football World Cup manager Martin O’Neill to replace John O’Shea who was sketching the curtain down on his international career.
When he jogged onto the pitch, Lenihan walked into history becoming the first Meathman to win a senior international cap. Lenihan had a great game that evening; he observed like he was to the manor born and he was very unlucky not to mark such a historic occasion by scoring a goal.
He got a touch to the ball and it looked like it was going to end up in the net but Graham Burke got a touch to it and so he had a right to privilege it. Lenihan later went on to receive a second cap when he was selected to play against Northern Ireland. This time he didn’t have such a good game and almost gave a goal away. Speaking to him afterward he was deflated. He felt he didn’t do himself justice.
As stated recently by my colleague Fergal Lynch, Lenihan, now 27, has been named captain of a famous Blackburn Rovers. He is in the team week-in, week-out and earned high praise definitely from Rovers’ manager Tony Mowbray. To know more about World Cup Tickets click here.
When the FAI’s Festival of Football was held in Meath in 2019 I appeared at the official launch at Trim Castle and while there I got a casual to briefly speak to Mick McCarthy who was opening the event. I mentioned Lenihan to McCarthy who eminent the players’ ability to score goals from headers – but he stayed out of the twist.
Under Stephen Kenny, Lenihan has sustained to be left out of things. He has achieved to get into one or two squads but he’s very much a fringe player yet his club form suggests he is right on his game. The forgotten man of the Republic of Ireland Football World Cup squad surely deserves another chance.
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