Given and Kilbane to celebrate significant achievement

Given and Kilbane to celebrate significant achievement

The selection of Shay Given to captain the Republic of Ireland in tonight's World Cup qualifying tie against Montenegro at Croke Park (7pm) is a marvellous tribute to an outstanding international.
13th Oct 2009


The occasion will be of huge significance for Given and the equally committed Kevin Kilbane for both players will be playing for Ireland for the 100th time. And no national team in the world can boast of two more deserving recipients of a century of caps.



Kilbane previously captained Ireland on their brief tour to America three years ago. He and Given have maintained a level of consistency over the past ten years that has made them automatic choices for a succession of team managers.



Given has regularly spoken of his sense of pride and satisfaction when selected for Ireland. And it was refreshing to hear him repeat these sentiments when manager Giovanni Trapattoni today confirmed that both players will start the game against Montenegro.



Trapattoni departed from his regular custom of announcing the Ireland team on the day before the match when he spoke to the assembled media representatives today. It was clear he is considering whether or not to indulge in a little experimentation.



He must make a change in central midfield where Glenn Whelan will be absent because of the yellow card he was shown in Saturday's drawn match with Italy. It was his second of the tournament and means he is suspended for this contest.



Trapattoni will also be considering whether to risk any of the other players who are currently on one yellow card and will be ruled out of the first leg of the play-off if they are booked again.



Given is on a yellow card but there is no doubt he will be risked in the belief that it is highly unlikely he would again attract censure. But outfield players are more at risk and Ireland's manager may not want to tempt faith in this regard in relation to Damien Duff, Leon Best, Keith Andrews and Paul McShane.



Ireland would dearly love to finish this first part of the qualification process by scoring another win to maintain the team's momentum. They will undoubtedly find Montenegro difficult opponents and they will not need reminding of the problems they posed when the teams drew in a scoreless game in Podgorica on September 10, 2008.



Ireland have undoubtedly made progress since then for this was Trapattoni's second competitive game in charge. They presented a very tight and well-organised structure against the World champions on Saturday where they would surely have won had they maintained the rhythm and initiative of their football in the opening twenty minutes.



This was the most invigorating spell of sustained effectiveness Ireland have produced in this campaign but it was almost as if their lead goal affected their approach. It seemed as if they grew more cautious after taking the lead with that magnificent goal from Glenn Whelan.



It remains to be seen just what overall team selection Trapattoni will send into battle against a Montenegro team that will be without several of their top players.



The exciting 19 years old Stefan Jovetic is ruled out because he picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the 2-1 win over Georgia on Saturday.



Jovetic was their top player when Ireland played them last year and he scored two marvellous goals for Fiorentina when they beat Liverpool recently in the Champions' League.



Also missing from their ranks will be his strike partner, Mirko Vucinic of Roma. He is injured while Vladimir Bozovic of Rapid Bucharest is also ruled out because of suspension.