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Programme: Gary Doherty

Posted on 4 November 2000  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

These are exciting but testing times for Gary Doherty as the 20-year-old continues to learn his craft in the Premiership and on the international scene.

The Republic of Ireland international, who joined us from Luton Town in April, is versatile enough to provide attacking cover for the first team and to appear regularly at the centre of defence for our reserves.

Irish boss Mick McCarthy also sees him as a centre-forward and, although Doherty played most of his Luton games in defence and understandably feels more comfortable there, he also enjoys his attacking opportunities when they come his way.

"At my age, I've got to let other people make that decision because they have the expertise and are in a much better position to assess my strengths and weaknesses," says Gary. "My priority is just to play.

"And, yes, it's going OK for me," he continues. "I'm where I want to be, in touch with the first team and playing regularly for the Reserves. Obviously I would prefer that to be the other way around but I accept that I'm not performing well enough on a consistent basis for that to happen just yet."

Gary's latest Premiership opportunity came against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week when he went on in the closing stages. And trying to attack such an international defence, with two French World Cup winners at its heart, can only add positively to Doherty's soccer education.

"There was little time for me to make any sort of impact on the game but again it was good experience to play against such quality opposition in a fantastic atmosphere. Such moments can only help in my development.

"Hopefully, I will settle down in one position before too long but I'm keeping both doors open at the moment because it's the fact that I can play up front that's giving me these first team chances during what has turned out to be a bit of an injury crisis.

"But there's an awful lot of competition at centre-half here - even in the Reserves. When Sol Campbell and Luke Young have been out, Ramon Vega has slotted in alongside Chris Perry and there's also Ledley King and Anthony Gardner available while Alton Thelwell can also play in there if required."

Meanwhile, Gary is also finding the challenges just as tough with Ireland, having made his senior debut last season but currently a regular in the Under-21s.

The Irish, of course, are in an extremely tough Group Two in the World Cup and were faced with the daunting prospect of starting their road east with away games in Holland and Portugal.

However, Stephen Carr and his fellow battlers forced their way into a shock

2-0 lead in Holland before being pegged back to 2-2. Portugal failed to read the warning signs and were lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw before Estonia were defeated 3-0 in Dublin. Cyprus and Andorra complete the group.

The Portugal and Estonia clashes were grouped together and Gary found himself playing for the Under-21s, losing 1-3 in Portugal but beating Estonia 1-0 in Kilkenny.

"I don't think the senior side needed me - they were flying," laughs Gary. "My dreams of the World Cup are all very much in the future but who knows? What I do believe is that if I can get closer to the first team here then I might start to get noticed and can build on that.

"But those two away results by Stephen and the lads were unbelievable. When the draw was made nobody would have given us a prayer but now neither Holland nor Portugal will be looking forward to coming to Lansdowne Road."

Despite neither of their centre-backs - Gary Breen and Richard Dunne - playing regular first team football for their clubs at the time, the Irish have established a growing reputation for the strength of their defence where Carr has emerged as a key facet.

"He's having another great season and his forward running is a massive part of his game," says Gary. "I rate him as a great pro and he's now getting the credit that he deserves."

Ironically, this afternoon Carr could find himself up against fellow Irish team mate Kevin Kilbane of Sunderland while Gary himself always looks forward to seeing Niall Quinn in action.

"Quinny seems to get better with age and is already one of the most feared strikers in the Premiership," says Doherty. "He and Kevin Phillips are a lethal partnership and I've been delighted to have had the opportunity to train with Niall with Ireland.

"He has the mark of a great player just in his bearing and I've got to learn from people like him, the best in the game. He's already been very helpful to me and has this way of making you feel important and not at all embarrassed. I'm grateful for that.

"As a player, he's got a phenomenal touch for a big man and is superb at bringing other people into the game.

"Kilbane is lightening quick and has really started coming into his own of late. Although he is left-footed, he can play on either wing and is a very good player.

"Both have important roles if Ireland are to go the distance - but they certainly won't have it all their own way this afternoon, particularly Kilbane if he comes up against Carr. That'll be a dual worth the entrance money alone!"

By John Fennelly