IF Irish eyes are smiling shortly before 7pm tonight, Hull City are likely to be in dreamland.
The Tigers have no less than five Republic of Ireland internationals in the squad. Together, they form a group that manager Steve Bruce affectionately calls a “ticking time bomb” inside the Hull dressing room.
Bruce has no plans to diffuse them, not with all five – David Meyler, Stephen Quinn, Paul McShane, Robbie Brady and Shane Long – having played such a big part in what has turned out to be Hull’s finest season.
“It is great having all the Irish boys here,” said Cork-born Meyler, who is likely to start today’s final. “They are a great bunch, as are all the lads to be fair.
“Getting Macca (McShane) back from injury has been brilliant.
“The heart of a lion and ‘Mr Reliable’ at the back. Same goes for all the lads, though it has been particularly good to see Quinny come back.
“I thought he did terrifically well against Everton last week when the game was flat, he was the busy midfielder getting the ball, passing it and putting in the cut-throat passes.”
Meyler’s career took off when he was spotted by Sunderland in 2009. Roy Keane was manager and a bargain fee of £90,000 was enough to bring the midfielder across from Cork City. Despite two horror injuries in his first two years, Meyler has proved a big hit in England.
“I had a big choice when I was younger,” he said. “I was playing minor hurling for Cork, which would be Under-18. But then the chance came to come to England.
“My dad has won an All-Ireland with Cork and two Munsters. He also captained and played for his local club, St Finbars, but he never wanted me to just go down the hurling route. He wanted me to play every sport and whichever opportunity arose he wanted me to take.
“When the opportunity came to go to England, he just said, ‘The hard work starts now’. Dad is my best friend and he has all the shirts, medals and even tickets from my career. Plus scrapbooks on my career and photos from all my games.
“One day, we are going to buy a bar and put them all up on the walls.”