Ex-Portsmouth, Leeds, Sheffield United and Coventry midfielder stars IN GOAL for Notts County

He was the lynchpin of Pompey's League Two title-winning side in the 2016-17 season.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 8:56 am
Former Pompey skipper Michael Doyle. Picture: Joe Pepler

Having represented the likes of Leeds, Sheffield United and Coventry during his career, Michael Doyle was recruited to give the Blues the nous and leadership required to escape the Football League’s doldrums.

But last night, the Irishman was forced to take up a new position for the first time of his career.

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Still playing at the ripe age of 39 for Notts County, Doyle volunteered to go between the posts after keeper Sam Slocombe was sent off against Dagenham & Redbridge.

And he performed admirably in goal as the Magpies delivered a 3-1 victory in the National League.

Slocombe was dismissed for a challenge on Darren McQueen on 18 minutes, although County had no substitute keeper on the bench.

That meant Doyle had to put the gloves on, revealing his Gaelic football background lead to the decision.

The ex-Leeds man immediately faced a penalty from Paul McCallum, which struck the post.

It was only in stoppage-time when Doyle was eventually beaten when Matt Robinson netted a consolation for the Daggers, having made several saves throughout the encounter.

Speaking after the game, Doyle told BBC Nottingham: ‘A couple of weeks ago, there, I was playing centre-half in training in one of the games and the gaffer and Greg (Abbott, assistant manager) were saying "We might have to put you in there if it comes to injuries”.

‘I said “Ah, no problem.” I was thinking "The older I’m getting, the further back I’m going” but I didn’t think I’d bloody end up in goal!

‘I played a lot of Gaelic when I was younger with my brothers and that, up in our local GAA club, St Mark’s in Tallaght where I grew up, and I loved it. And thank God for all those years playing Gaelic, catching the ball — it kind of came in handy.

‘To be fair, the lads in front of me were amazing. It was a joy to watch them tonight with 10 men, the way they played. Al the credit goes to them.

‘To be honest with you, when Sam got sent off, I didn’t even realise we didn’t have a keeper on the bench.’

On McCallum’s missed penalty, Doyle said: ‘I walked past the goal and he just started laughing at me.

‘I knew straight away he probably wasn’t focused so I started having a laugh with him.

‘At that stage, I was just thinking of Bruce Grobbelaar (for Liverpool) in the European Cup final in 1984 in Rome when he was dossing about! I thought “I'm going to have a bit of a doss, here”.’

The win moved Notts County up to fifth in the National League table.