Sunday, March 18, 2018

Owls Blog - Paul Corry Graduates To The Hillsborough Limelight

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Owls Blogger Chris Brookes returns to with his latest blog, this time talking about the latest Owls debutant, Irishman Paul Corry.

Chris is a journalism graduate (Sheffield Hallam University), 22 years old and a Kop season ticket holder since 2004, but a fan from further back than that. He also runs his own blog where he interviews players past and present but with the different angle of discussing music with them, with some top name interviews on there so far. He also writes regularly about Wednesday whenever he gets the opportunity.
"On a Friday night of a compelling Yorkshire derby between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United the football was clouded by disgraceful incidents, but Wednesday’s young Irish midfielder and recent university graduate Paul Corry was a real source of promise in an impressive overall display from the home side.

The 21-year-old had cemented his status as one of Ireland’s top emerging prospects during his time with University College Dublin and Dave Jones made him an Owls player at the end of August on a three-year-deal. Corry made his debut for Wednesday as a starter in last month’s Capital One Cup defeat at Premier League Southampton but Rhys McCabe’s injury opened the door for his first appearance in the Championship in a televised clash with Neil Warnock’s Leeds United last Friday. I read his name on the teamsheet on the way to the ground and instantly thought that although his selection could go one of two ways, with all the reports on his ability he was likely to give a good account of himself in the game. It is fair to say that he went beyond that and in a heated encounter, ultimately exacerbated by inexcusable actions of some on the night, he took to the big-game atmosphere with consummate ease.

So much has been said on the matter so I want to mention the trouble that arose on the night and to then leave it behind and give the rightful attention of this piece to Paul Corry. Anyone who has an interest in English football, or indeed access to Twitter or Sky Sports News, will know that Owls keeper Chris Kirkland was struck in the face by a Leeds fan after Michael Tonge’s 77th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Hillsborough. There were also scenes in the crowd that were incredibly not picked up on by the Sky coverage, including abhorrent chants from the travelling supporters and reportedly from a small section of the home crowd too. Seats and bottles were thrown over an extended period of minutes that had me looking on in amazement as the game went on in the midst of it all. The ‘supporter’ who attacked Kirkland has now been jailed for 16 weeks and given a lifetime ban from Elland Road by Leeds, in addition to a five-year banning order from football grounds (though he was reportedly already banned before the assault on Friday). I welcome how quickly he was sentenced but the length of the prison term is not even close to long enough, a sentiment I’m glad to see Leeds and the rest of the football community have echoed.

The game was as lively as expected with Leeds sitting just outside the play-off places and coming to Hillsborough to face us at a time when we were in a run of seven defeats and a solitary draw from the previous eight games. It has been a painful recent run but on Friday we showed all the desire needed in such a game and some sparkling passages of play under the lights. Overall, Wednesday were the better side in the first half, in possession, chances created and on the scoresheet thanks to Jay Bothroyd’s first goal for the club since his loan from Queens Park Rangers. Leeds’ Luciano Becchio also got away with an outrageous handball at full-stretch in the penalty area and there are cases to say that Wednesday’s Miguel Llera should have been sent off for at least one of two incidents. It should also be noted that Leeds’ Michael Brown deserved a red card for his kick on Chris O’Grady and likewise El-Hadji Diouf for his typically petulant kick on Jose Semedo later on. The visitors had the better of it in an extended spell in the second half where Wednesday were second-best – a familiar trend for us that has to go. Ex-Sheffield United midfielder Michael Tonge earned Leeds a point with a very well-hit shot with 13 minutes remaining, on the balance of the game however Wednesday were bright and persistent, backed by the crowd throughout, and unfortunate not to secure the three points to end this winless patch. Paul Corry was one of the standouts alongside Jose Semedo and Everton loanee Ross Barkley. To make your league debut in a game as fierce as this and to perform so confidently seems to be a big indication of the standard of player Wednesday have signed in Corry.

The system Dave Jones has implemented lately has Michail Antonio and Jay Bothroyd out wide supporting Chris O’Grady as the frontman, with three central midfielders. Despite mine and others’ doubts about only playing one ‘out and out’ striker, especially at home, it did allow for a lot of positive aspects in our play on Friday. Corry linked up very well with Semedo and Barkley and there was a clear amount of vibrancy as he and Barkley really complimented each other’s game as the night went on. The young Irishman moved the ball well under pressure but he was never afraid to take extra touches either. He played the ball simply on many occasions but also showed variation in his game as he looked for the more telling contributions. There was a great lofted pass out to the left wing for Antonio to power his way through the Leeds backline from, and also an incisive through-ball that had Lewis Buxton in a great position down the right. These were two highly impressive moments from Corry and he made a concerted effort to join attacks as they developed, including when the ball came to him on 21 minutes on the edge of the box, but he was unfortunately crowded out. Corry always had a willingness to show for the ball when his teammates had it and this is a vital part of how I believe we will move forward as a team – giving our players the right options when we are in possession.

To say it was Corry’s first Wednesday appearance in the league, and in front of over 28,000 against a team with some accomplished players and also some spiky characters to say the least, he looked so assured. Players who exert the feeling that they are in control of their decisions and what they want to make happen going forward give fans a good feeling and I see that in him. He spread the ball well to keep attacks flowing but he has that eye for a cutting pass and I can envisage him finding a way through some defences in the future. Observers of his time at UCD will tell you that he likes to shoot whenever possible, evidenced by his 14 goals for the club in three years, and he displayed this desire with an effort in the first half that was cleanly struck but saved by Paddy Kenny. He battled away against another ex-Blade, Michael Brown, in one moment in the second half and did not relinquish possession as he showed that he is not afraid to dig in when called upon. It will be interesting to see how he does if he gets the run of games his performance merits but I have to say he does not look to have one distinct quality – he genuinely has a touch of everything. There was a pass he played to Semedo that put the Portuguese midfielder under some pressure and in turn led to Daniel Jones giving a foul away, and looking back he will wish that he got a block in on Tonge’s goal but it was an excellent league debut for Corry. He was replaced on 82 minutes by Danny Mayor and the reaction from the Wednesday fans and staff (including his manager) said it all about how impressed we all were with him.

Corry had been at UCD from 2009 onwards after captaining his previous team Belvedere to the FAI Umbro Under-17 Challenge Cup, scoring two goals in the final to win the trophy. He won promotion to the League of Ireland’s Premier Division in his first season at UCD and has also spent time training with Burnley. At the time, Corry was 18 and Burnley were in the Premier League, and while he said how much he liked manager Owen Coyle he changed his mind late on when it had looked for all the world like he would join the Clarets. Corry said he could not explain why he decided against the move but also said he did not regret it due to the great times he then had with UCD. As the football team of University College Dublin, UCD give players the chance to continue their education while also progressing on the field. Corry turned down interest from other clubs to finish his Commerce degree and also his time playing for UCD, showing admirable loyalty that was appreciated by his manager Martin Russell. A former Manchester United youngster, Russell has often acknowledged how UCD will lose their best players when bigger clubs register their interest but he praised Corry and cited him as someone who can inspire other Irish players in future. Derby County striker Connor Sammon and Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Gary Dicker have become established Football League players after representing UCD, and Corry, who was the only League of Ireland player to be named in the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad in August, appears to be primed to do the same.

He was a popular part of the set-up at UCD and I can already see why he was admired by many. After impressing in the 3-2 victory for Wednesday’s Under-21s against Sheffield United during the international break he grasped his chance in the first team on Friday. It was a night that had a lot of regrettable incidents that should not be a part of football but to hear Dave Jones praising the youngsters we have at the club after the game was very heartening for Wednesday fans and it gave me optimism. The likes of Corry, Antonio, Mayor, Madine and McCabe are all in their early twenties and there are others in the first team who are not much older. Chairman Milan Mandaric spoke in the early days of his reign about the need to build assets on the playing side of the club and these are examples of that. Ross Barkley’s loan from Everton has been extended which I am very pleased with, he has shown more and more touches of supreme class of late. There is also Rhys McCabe, and Chris Lines who is nearing a return from injury, and while it could be said that we have needed more incision in our passes in games this season we certainly have some promising midfielders. With Blackburn and Ipswich to travel to, followed by a November which contains four Hillsborough fixtures for us, I am looking forward to seeing more of Corry. I know how quickly some people’s opinions on players can change but anyone who was at Hillsborough on Friday or saw the game on Sky cannot have been anything other than highly impressed by him. Corry has the required attributes to really build on his superb start for us and I am delighted he is in the blue and white."


You can follow Chris on Twitter or check out his football and music site here


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