Football/Soccer

Conor McMenamin cleared over video and recalled by Northern Ireland

Conor McMenamin
By Ian Parker, PA,

Conor McMenamin has been cleared to play in Northern Ireland’s Nations League match against Greece tomorrow as he will face no further action regarding an historic video in which he appeared to sing a pro-IRA slogan.

The 27-year-old Glentoran winger was withdrawn from Ian Baraclough’s squad shortly before Saturday’s 2-1 win over Kosovo after the video emerged.

However, given that the footage is believed to be almost a decade old and the former Cliftonville and Linfield player was punished by his club at the time, the Irish FA allowed him to travel to Athens yesterday while a independent disciplinary committee considered whether he had breached IFA rules.

McMenamin has now been cleared and joined his team-mates in training this evening ahead of the crunch fixture against Greece, in which Northern Ireland need to avoid defeat to be sure of not dropping into a relegation play-off.

McMenamin was withdrawn a day after striker Kyle Lafferty was sent home amid an investigation by his club Kilmarnock into a video appearing to show him using alleged sectarian language, but that was understood to have been recorded only last week.

McMenamin’s reinstatement for the Greece game will give him the opportunity to add to the three caps he earned in June after an outstanding season with Glentoran last term was rewarded with his first international call-up.

Speaking after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Kosovo, Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough had said he hoped historic videos would not become a recurring problem for the team.

“It’s a distraction you’d rather not have,” Baraclough said. “To happen so close to kick-off time, I thought we did the right things in pulling Conor out of the squad. It needs to be looked at.

“Clearly it’s an historic video from social media from when he was 16 I think. I’m not sure where it’s going to go at this time.

“You just hope that it isn’t (something that continues) and things don’t get churned up. I’d rather leave it at that and not elaborate on it too much. I was trying to concentrate on a game of football and that’s what we did.

“It’s been tough for the boys because if you lose two members of the squad, you know they get close and they don’t like to see that happen to anyone. It could have played a major factor but they rallied and got a result.”

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