Ireland boss Martin O'Neill staying cautious despite beating Germany
Published 09/10/2015 | 00:01
Martin O'Neill was keeping his feet firmly on the ground after the Republic of Ireland blasted their way back into the race for Euro 2016 qualification with famous victory over world champions Germany.
The Republic boss was elated after seeing Shane Long come off the bench to fire his side to a famous 1-0 win, but insisted that they still have a long way to go as the prepare for Sunday's final Group D clash with Poland with a play-off berth the least they can achieve.
Asked for his reaction on a dramatic night in Dublin, O'Neill said: "Well, naturally delighted to win the game.
"Unfortunately we have still a long way to go yet, but it was great to beat the Germans, world champions, here today. Considering the things we had to overcome, I thought it was a fantastic effort by the players. They deserve enormous credit.
"It was a fantastic effort and Shane comes on and just scores a wonder-goal for us and gave us something to hang on to.
"I'm ecstatic that we have won the game. You would think that beating the Germans and not being beaten by them at all, the world champions, you would think that would be at least deserving of winning the tournament, but it's not the case - we haven't even qualified.
"But it's been a great effort and the players showed great courage, great determination and some ability too to conjure up the win."
Victory in Warsaw would guarantee automatic qualification, as would a high-scoring draw - better than the 1-1 the Poles achieved at the Aviva Stadium - as the head-to-head record of the two sides would be used to split them.
Three points could even be enough to win the group should Germany, as likely as it may be, slip up against Georgia, although O'Neill was refusing to get ahead of himself after that scenario was put to him by a journalist.
He said: "It's easy that, isn't it? You just think climbing Mount Everest is no problem whatsoever, especially if you are in summer clothes.
"It's a wee bit more difficult than you are making out. We have to go to Poland to win a game - most likely win a game. I don't know particularly, but I assume we have to draw 2-2 or 3-3 or 4-4?
"Well, let's just try to win it. I'll think about Poland tomorrow morning. Tonight, I am genuinely delighted for the players, the spirit among them."
The decisive moment arrived with 20 minutes remaining when, five minutes after coming on, Long latched on to fellow substitute Darren Randolph's clearance and blasted an unstoppable right-foot shot past the startled Manuel Neuer.
Germany, who had dominated much of what had gone before, created several opportunities to level, but Thomas Muller was guilty of a bad miss and Randolph saved from Jerome Boateng and Ilkay Gundogan to spark mass celebrations on the final whistle.
Manager Joachim Low said: "Overall, I think we have to say that it was one of the most unnecessary defeats that we have had to accept over the last few years.
"It was to be expected that Ireland would be defending with nine, sometimes even 10, men, get behind the ball and try long, hopeful balls.
"They had one and only one opportunity to score, whereas we squandered a good many of those and were eventually punished for squandering them.
"We avoided 99 of those long balls and kept possession, but the 100th long ball was one too many.
"But it's still in our own hands. Qualification is there for us to win with a win against Georgia."