Conor McMenamin leaves Northern Ireland squad after historic video surfaces

Conor McMenamin was withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad shortly before their come-from-behind Nations League victory over Kosovo after an historic video surfaced appearing to show the Glentoran winger allegedly singing a pro-IRA chant.

The decision came a day after Kyle Lafferty was sent home after his club Kilmarnock opened an investigation into a video appearing to show the veteran striker allegedly using sectarian language.

The Irish FA announced the decision to axe McMenamin less than an hour before kick-off in Northern Ireland’s 2-1 win at Windsor Park, also ruling him out of Tuesday’s trip to face Greece in Athens.

A statement said: “In light of an historic social media video which has been circulated, Northern Ireland senior men’s team player Conor McMenamin has been withdrawn from the squad.”

McMenamin, 27, has three caps for Northern Ireland, all won in June after an outstanding season with Glentoran was recognised with a first call-up this summer.

After the match, Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough said: “It is a distraction you would rather not have. And to happen so close to kick-off time. I thought we did the right thing in pulling Conor out of the squad.

“It needs to be looked at. Clearly it is a historical video on social media from when he was 16. I am not sure where it is going to go at this time.”

Northern Ireland v Kosovo – UEFA Nations League – Group J – Windsor Park
Ian Baraclough said it was the right decision to withdraw Conor McMenamin from the squad (Liam McBurney/PA)

The video of McMenamin is understood to be several years old, prompting concerns other historic things could now emerge.

“You just hope that…things don’t get churned up,” Baraclough said. “I’d rather leave it at that and not elaborate because I was trying to concentrate on a game of football and that’s what we did.

“It has been tough for the boys to lose two members of the squad. They get close and they don’t like to see that happen to anyone.

“So that could have played a major factor but it didn’t. They rallied and got a result.”

On Friday, Lafferty was sent home a day after Kilmarnock announced an investigation into a video which had emerged earlier in the week showing Northern Ireland’s second highest goalscorer reacting when a man posing for a photo with him says ‘Up the Celts’.

Kyle Lafferty File Photo
Kyle Lafferty was withdrawn from the squad on Friday after Kilmarnock began an investigation into an alleged sectarian slur (Liam McBurney/PA)

When Lafferty’s withdrawal was announced, the Irish FA statement also made reference to a back injury which would have ruled him out of Saturday’s match regardless.

Baraclough said in Friday’s press conference the injury had been a factor in the decision – but there was no such ambiguity in the statement regarding McMenamin.

During that press conference, Baraclough was asked if the controversy regarding Lafferty’s video threatened to undermine the cross-community work that the IFA continues to do. Baraclough said he wanted football to remain part of the solution in Northern Ireland.

“Although I’ve not lived here growing up, and having lived with what has happened through The Troubles and how society is dealing with what has happened, hopefully going forward it is a stronger, more together nation,” he said.

“For me, we play a part in that by bringing a group of fans together who love supporting Northern Ireland and the football team. If you’re winning games of football that makes everybody happy.”