By Malachy Clerkin
DUBLIN — After all the build up, after all the speculation, it all came down to 23 names on a piece of paper and hardly a raised eyebrow in the room.
Mick McCarthy named his squad for the World Cup in a Dublin hotel on Tuesday morning and basically told reporters what they already knew — that the men who got him to Japan would be the men he’d put on the plane. In the three or four cases where the calls were close, he went with the devils he knew in order to reward them for getting him there.
The closest shave appeared to be the choice between Lee Carsley and Colin Healy for the last midfield berth, and in choosing the Everton man, McCarthy basically said it wouldn’t be fair to bring a relative newcomer at the expense of someone who had soldiered over the last two years.
“I had to decide between two players whose abilities were fairly similar to each other and the one thing that was in my head was the fact that Lee has been there with us and beside us for the past three years,” McCarthy said. “I felt that in a situation like that, where it wasn’t the case that one of them was going to be the player to take us further into the tournament, that it was only right that the player who’d been around to get us there should be the one to go. Same with Alan Kelly and Nicky Colgan.
“I rang five players yesterday to tell them the bad news. They were Nicky, Colin, Gary Doherty, Rory Delap and Steven Reid. They were all disappointed, but they all understood how important it was for me to stay loyal to the players who had done so much for me over the past few years. But they’ll be involved in the future.”
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Squad: Shay Given (Newcastle United), Alan Kelly (Blackburn Rovers), Dean Kiely (Charlton Athletic), Steve Staunton (Aston Villa), Ian Harte (Leeds United), Richard Dunne (Manchester City), Gary Breen (Coventry City), Andy O’Brien (Newcastle United), Kenny Cunningham (Wimbledon), Gary Kelly (Leeds United), Steve Finnan (Fulham), Roy Keane (Manchester United), Mark Kinsella (Charlton Athletic), Matt Holland (Ipswich), Jason McAteer (Sunderland), Kevin Kilbane (Sunderland), Mark Kennedy (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Lee Carsley (Everton), Niall Quinn (Sunderland), Robbie Keane (Leeds United), Damien Duff (Blackburn Rovers), Clinton Morrison (Crystal Palace), David Connolly (Wimbledon).