Ireland reveals divisions in Trapattoni's squad

City midfielder claims cliques still dominate the Republic's selection process

As the Republic of Ireland prepare for their most important match for years, their erstwhile midfielder Stephen Ireland gave a withering account of Giovanni Trapattoni's regime. The Ireland set-up was a misery, the Manchester City player said, because the dominant Dublin clique do not want Cork boys like him around and he is happy not to be involved in the World Cup play-off with France at Croke Park tonight.

"Even now I know for a fact the whole Irish set-up is exactly the same: they pick all the Dublin lads, one or two Cork lads, and the Cork lads are thrown on the back seat and that's basically it," said Ireland, who has retired from the international scene. "It's just wrong. It's not fair because there are a lot of great players who go other ways because of it. Even when I was under-age I didn't want to go training there, I was looking for excuses but I had to. When I got old enough to make my own decisions I knew exactly what I wanted."

It is a point that another son of Cork, Roy Keane, has also made, though the timing of Ireland's observations will cause huge reverberations around his native country.

Ireland's reasons run far deeper than a famous bust-up with coach Brian Kerr when with the Under-16s or even his fateful withdrawal from Steve Staunton's side for the match against Czech Republic in September 2007, which led to his claims that first one grandmother, then another was dead.

The player also says Trapattoni, the Ireland manager, had paid "lip service" to the idea of bringing him back into the fold, to placate the Irish press. "Trapattoni rang me during the summer asking me if we could meet up at some stage," he said. "They had a game the following week against Bulgaria and I thought, 'Maybe he wants me to come to this game.' But he said, 'Maybe [we can meet] three or four months from now' which I thought was strange. Then he said, 'So it's OK if I speak to the press and tell them we chatted.' So I think it was more about him covering his back and having a press conference where he could say, 'I've made the effort, I've spoken to Stephen, blah-di-blah-di-blah."

Ireland denied the widely reported suggestions that he had fled the national scene after being pinned to the floor by team-mates trying to remove a hairpiece he was wearing. Irish tabloid headlines have included: "Hair apparent: how did Stephen go from balding to bushy so quickly?" and the player said the Irish media had contributed to his decision. "Ireland's ridiculous. It's just ridiculous. This is the way it is for them – they can write for only a few days about a good result but they can write for weeks on end about a bad result."

Ireland also disclosed that he has received hate mail because of his decision not to play for the Republic. "I've had a lot of that stuff but it was bound to come," he said. "It's normal and it doesn't faze me at all.

"A lot of people say to my friends, 'Why's Stephen not playing for his country? If I ever see him I'll do this or that to him,' but then if I ever see them they just bottle it. I've had confrontations with people who have said, 'Oh if I see him I'm going to tell him what I think' and then I see them and they're like, 'Oh mate, right decision, don't go back and play for Ireland.' They're always different to my face. My family have had problems too but it's nothing we can't deal with. I have my family in Manchester now, and that's the way it is."

Not even seeing Ireland overcome the French would bring the 23-year-old back. "I'd wish them all the best but it's no skin off my back. They are the ones doing it," he said.

Ireland spent yesterday being driven at high speed around the Yas Marina grand prix track here, before taking lunch in the same hotel as contestants for Miss World. Perhaps it's not surprising he's not missing Dublin after all.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent