MX23RW : Monday, August 2 07:18:53| >> :600:4554093:4554093:
Mar 26, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at Aviva Stadium
Attendance: 40,317
Rep. IrelandRepublic of Ireland
Hourihane (36')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Glenn Whelan: 'Privilege to be back in Republic of Ireland picture'

Whelan: 'Privilege to be back in Ireland picture'
© Reuters
The Aston Villa player thought he had earned his last Ireland cap in November but was recalled this month.

Glenn Whelan has vowed to wring every minute out of what remains of his international career after returning to the Republic of Ireland ranks at the age of 35.

The Aston Villa midfielder freely admits he thought his time had come despite never formally announcing his retirement after he won his 85th cap against Northern Ireland in November last year.

However, Martin O'Neill's departure as manager opened the door once again and, while he knows time is against him, Whelan is determined to continue to serve new boss Mick McCarthy in whatever way he can.

He said: "It's a privilege to come back and put the jersey on. In November, I thought that was going to be the last time I'd ever do it.

"When I got the phone call to come back, there were no second questions. It was, 'Get the tickets booked and I'm there'.

"I know where I stand. I know I'm getting on a little bit. If I come and do my part, I'm more than happy."

Whelan played a key role in Tuesday night's 1-0 Euro 2020 qualifier victory over Georgia after being left out of Saturday's opening fixture for precisely that purpose.

The cover he provided allowed match-winner Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick to prosper ahead of him, and he is happy to help school a new generation of midfielders.

Whelan said: "I never retired. Obviously Martin O'Neill at the time was going about his thing and I understood that because I'm getting on in age.

"I'm very grateful to Martin and to then get the phone call from Mick to come back... I didn't know where I was going to stand, whether it was just to be around the lads. But I'm pushing them.

"We've got a few lads coming through who need that little bit of experience, so I can pass that on a little bit.

"There's only about four or five of us who are in proper double figures (for caps). The young lads are coming through and they have to be given chances."

The Georgia result – and more so the performance – went some of the way towards putting smiles back on the faces of fans who had endured a demoralising 2018, and with Ireland currently sitting at the top of Group D, many left feeling cautiously optimistic.

Whelan said: "The two games were banana skins a little bit. Gibraltar was a tough game with the conditions, but it's two wins, two clean sheets and it gives us something to build on.

"We'll definitely come back in the summer with a little bit of confidence. The last 12 months have been a little bit difficult, but hopefully we've got the fans back on side a little bit by giving them something to shout about."

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Republic of Ireland's Conor Hourihane celebrates scoring their first goal against Georgia on March 26, 2019
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McCarthy heaps praise on "special" Hourihane

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events

· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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