Republic of Ireland FA issue apology to former Portsmouth midfielder 

Alan McLoughlin celebrates Republic of Ireland reaching the 1994 World Cup after their 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland.
Alan McLoughlin celebrates Republic of Ireland reaching the 1994 World Cup after their 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland.

The Irish FA have ‘apologised profusely’ to Alan McLoughlin for not inviting him to Thursday night’s friendly against Northern Ireland.

The clash falls two days prior to the 25th anniversary since the former Pompey midfielder’s goal sent the Republic of Ireland into the 1994 World Cup.

McLoughlin’s 78th-minute equaliser earned Jack Charlton’s side a 1-1 draw at Windsor Park, ensuring they reached the tournament in the USA.

With the Republic of Ireland facing Northern Ireland at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, the Swindon Academy boss felt the Irish FA should have asked him – as well as his team-mates from the famous game – to attend.

And the association has since called it a ‘complete oversight’ for not asking McLoughlin to the clash. 

In a statement, he said: ‘Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend Thursday’s match at Aviva Stadium due to work commitments with Swindon Town FC, where the newly-appointed manager is keen to utilise my knowledge of the current squad between now and Saturday’s game against Carlisle United.

‘I would love to have attended but, as outlined in an interview with Vincent Hogan of the Irish Independent last week, I had not been invited.

‘This was something I revealed on being asked if I would be in attendance at the friendly against Northern Ireland, coming as it does almost exactly on the 25th anniversary of the game in Windsor Park that secured our qualification for USA ’94.

‘The assumption in the question, clearly, was that the Football Association of Ireland would have something in place for Thursday evening in recognition of that anniversary.

‘The FAI made numerous attempts to contact me after publication of the interview and I did eventually speak with their representatives as well as CEO, John Delaney, on Monday.

‘They have apologised profusely to me over what they described as "a complete oversight" on their behalf.

‘They also apologised for the absence of any communication from the Association when I was diagnosed with cancer six years ago.

‘The 25th anniversary of our qualification for those World Cup finals should, I believe, have been recognised this week but I/we – the players from that ’93 squad – accept that it won’t be and move on. 

‘Hopefully, lessons will be learned from this and an "oversight" such as this won’t be repeated.’

McLoughlin has, however, been asked by the Irish FA to attend a game in the future. 

He added: ‘I have accepted an invitation from the FAI to attend a future game at Aviva Stadium, which I look forward to greatly.

‘I also appreciate that the Association took the time to contact me personally over the last couple of days.

‘Hopefully I will, thus, be able to show the Republic of Ireland supporters my appreciation for the incredible support I/we always received while playing for our country and, in my case specifically, during the time of my illness.

‘One thing I have learned from that time is to always live for today.’