Jayson Molumby ready for Hampden crowd after ‘horrible’ experience of no fans

Jayson Molumby is relishing the prospect of running out in front of a hostile crowd in Scotland after the “horrible” experience of taking his first steps as a senior international behind closed doors.

The 23-year-old will hope for a role at Hampden Park on Saturday when the Republic of Ireland travel to Glasgow looking to complete a Nations League double over their neighbours.

West Brom midfielder Molumby was thrust into the heart of Stephen Kenny’s side when the new manager promoted his former Under-21s skipper to the senior ranks against Finland in the same competition two years ago in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “When I first came in to play for Ireland against Finland, there were no fans at the Aviva. Since I was a kid, the goal was only playing for your country. You had a vision of a packed-out Aviva, and I ended up playing 10, 11 games with no fans.

“It was horrible. It was a really strange experience. Personally I didn’t feel I’d played for my country with no fans. It just felt so strange.”

The 13th of Molumby’s 14 caps to date was, however, won in front of a raucous crowd at the Aviva Stadium as Ireland romped to a 3-0 victory over the Scots in June courtesy of goals from Alan Browne, Troy Parrott and, in spectacular fashion, Michael Obafemi.

He said: “That day at the Aviva against Scotland, the atmosphere was something that I’ve never experienced before. I don’t think they will be able to match that atmosphere at Hampden, to be fair.”

Republic of Ireland v Scotland – UEFA Nations League – Group 1 – Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland’s Jayson Molumby (left) won his 13th cap in the Nations League win over Scotland in June (Brian Lawless/PA)

That game marked Molumby’s return to the Irish starting line-up after he had sat out the opening League B1 defeats by Armenia and Ukraine, and he retained his place for the 1-1 draw with the Ukrainians in the Polish city of Lodz three days later.

This summer brought a change of clubs as he ended his six-year stay at Brighton to join the Baggies, where he had spent last season on loan, and he believes regular club football has helped him mature as an international player.

Molumby said: “I came in early and, to be honest, maybe some of my performances at the start were not up to scratch. I wasn’t playing at club level quite often.

“Now I feel that I’m playing at club level week in, week out, I feel confident, feel ready and that I’m maturing.”

Life at the Hawthorns has been tough so far this season – Steve Bruce’s men currently lie in 21st place in the Sky Bet Championship table without a win in five games – although Molumby is convinced they have deserved better.

He said: “The table speaks for itself and we’re in a business where we need to win games and climb up the table, but if you have watched the 10 games, then there is no way that we should be where we are.

“That’s how it is, that’s football.”