Cliftonville star Joe Gormley deserves place in Northern Ireland squad
A mural has just been unveiled in Ardoyne paying tribute to Cliftonville hero Joe Gormley.
What the north Belfast man has achieved in the Irish League is remarkable – even historic – and in recent months the writing on the wall appeared to suggest the 24-year-old would receive a Northern Ireland call-up.
But when boss Michael O'Neill yesterday named his squad to face Uruguay in Montevideo on May 30 and Chile in Valparaiso on June 4, Gormley's name was nowhere to be seen.
He must be sitting at home right now scratching his head wondering what he has to do to earn O'Neill's faith. The Reds striker has just been crowned Player of the Year and Ulster Footballer of the Year after netting 37 goals last season – a club record – to help his side retain the league title for the first time.
Even though the Northern Ireland squad is without so many regulars – I was half expecting a call-up myself – the Reds trio of Gormley, keeper Conor Devlin and striker Liam Boyce have been overlooked.
Boyce and Devlin have been in previous squads but Gormley remains out in the cold.
International football is a huge step up from the Irish League but when players like Gormley are ignored, it doesn't send an encouraging message to those who shine at domestic level.
Strikers also win matches – can you remember when Northern Ireland used to do that?