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  • Sport

Galway man David Forde a Wembley hero for Trap's Boys in Green

Wednesday, 5th June, 2013 10:25am

By JIM CARNEY

IT'S impossible to say if Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli will succeed in bringing the Republic of Ireland through the World Cup qualifiers coming up, but already it's proven a wonderful adventure for 33-year-old first choice goalkeeper David Forde from Innishannagh Park, Newcastle, Galway city. Capped unusually late in his career, with the game away to Sweden in March of this year his competitive debut, he got rave reviews last week for his brilliant display in the 1-1 draw against England at Wembley, on Wednesday evening. This, of course, was a friendly but the outcome had huge prestige at stake for both sides; indeed they both did well in their second ‘friendlies’ — on Sunday: Republic of Ireland 4 Georgia 0, in Dublin, and Brazil 2 England 2 at the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. In his analysis of the Wembley game, England manager Roy Hodgson praised David Forde who, he said, “came good for his team when it was necessary.” The ‘keeper, who plays his club football for Millwall in the npower Championship, was quoted over the weekend as saying it was the night of his life and a dream come true to play for his country against England in front of an attendance of 80,126. He added that as a boy growing up in Galway he watched on television the Cup final at Wembley Stadium every year and now he knows what a very special place it is. For Millwall he had played at Wembley in League One and Championship play-off matches but nothing in his life could compare with the feeling last Wednesday, playing in the first Republic of Ireland vs England match in 18 years. And he was thrilled, he said, to have made the two saves — from Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain — that were much talked about on the night. What’s interesting now for Irish fans is to reflect on how long David Forde’s international career will last, for while he has proven himself worthy of manager Trapattoni’s faith in him as successor to Shay Given, it’s a pity he’s not playing for a Premiership club. Former Republic of Ireland stalwart Matt Holland, writing in the Mail on Sunday, said Forde has played so well in the World Cup qualifiers the team don’t really miss Shay Given. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a Premier League club comes calling on Forde now,” wrote Holland. “He has the ability to be a top flight No. 1; he typifies calmness for his back four and he’s almost rare in the modern game as a ‘keeper who has no problems making high catches from corners and crosses. He doesn’t flap at the ball or make silly decisions. Defenders feel no uncertainty when they know their goalkeeper will come and collect the ball.” Matt Holland also praised the Galway man for the speed with which he gets attacks going, picking out players with pace, like Aiden McGeady, James McClean and Shane Long, and the ‘keeper is able to do that “because he doesn’t come and punch everything away, with the danger that it could be sent straight back to you.” That’s great praise for David Forde, coming from a man who wore the Green of the Republic of Ireland 49 times, and it shows how the dedicated goalkeeper has gone from strength to strength since he made his first start at international level two years ago against Italy in a ‘friendly’ at Liege in Belgium. He’ll be 34 next December and goalkeepers can play at the highest level well into their high thirties, and in some cases until they’re 40. Last year, he was one of the three goalkeepers selected by Trap’ for the European Championships but, realistically, he had no hope of getting the No. 1 jersey from Shay Given. But he was very proud to be the first Galway man to be selected for a Republic of Ireland squad ahead of a major soccer tournament. For the record, David Forde started with Galway Utd; then he moved to Wales, and later to West Ham, back to Ireland to join Derry City (winning an FAI Cup medal in 2006) followed by a second move across-Channel, this time to Cardiff City, and on to Luton, Bournemouth and Millwall where he’s regarded as a fans’ favourite. • World Cup qualifier at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin this Friday, Republic of Ireland vs Faroe Islands, at 7.45 p.m. The Irish must beat the Faroes if they are to keep alive their hopes of snatching the runners-up spot in Group C. Local club Kilshanvey Utd have the honour of putting forward two flag-bearers for this match. Proudly walking out onto the Aviva Stadium pitch, on behalf of the Kilconly club, will be James Ganley and Ciara O’Malley, with several busloads of supporters there to cheer them on and share the excitement of the big occasion.

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