Friday 30 September 2016

Praise floods in for Martin O'Neill and his team after Euro 2016 qualification

Published 16/11/2015 | 22:36

Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters celebrates scoring his sides first goal of the match from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters celebrates scoring his sides first goal of the match from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

Management duo Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have been hailed after the Republic of Ireland booked their place at Euro 2016.

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Two goals from Jonathan Walters earned a 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin on Monday meaning, the hosts reached France 3-1 on aggregate.

It is just the third time the Republic have qualified for the European Championships and they join England, Wales and Northern Ireland at next year's tournament.

Ray Houghton, who earned 73 caps for Ireland and played in the 1994 World Cup, told BBC Radio 5 Live O'Neill and Keane have worked wonders.

He said: "Martin is one of those managers who has grown into the job, if you see him game by game he was getting more involved. The same with Roy Keane.

"This means so much to Martin. It's been a long haul, a lot of effort and blood, sweat and tears has gone into this team.

"It's about every player who goes out there and pulls that green shirt and they will go into battle with anyone."

Ireland and Stoke goalkeeper Shay Given - out with a knee injury - also praised the duo.

"Eyebrows were raised when they first came in. We didn't know what they were going to be like either but Martin and Roy have done what they set out to do," said the 39-year-old on 5 Live.

"They have really clicked together, they have struck up a real friendship over the course of the last couple of years."

The Republic have qualified for a second successive Euros after reaching Poland and Ukraine in 2012, where they were knocked out of the group stages, and former midfielder Graham Kavanagh believes they have a chance to do better this time.

"It's everything we deserve and more," he told Sky Sports News.

"The last tournament we didn't really turn up and I know coming away a lot of players were disappointed and now they have this great opportunity.

"We didn't do ourselves justice in the last tournament, but this group of players has achieved something which is amazing. They will remember this for the rest of their lives."

Walters has now scored four goals in his last five internationals and earned praise after his Dublin double.

Hull midfielder David Meyler, who suffered a knee injury in training ahead of the first leg on Saturday, tweeted: "I love you @JonWalters19."

Derby boss Paul Clement tweeted congratulations to his quartet of County players who have helped Ireland qualify for France.

He wrote: "Congratulations to our Players - Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick, Cyrus Christie and Alex Pearce and the Republic of Ireland. Euro 2016!!!!"

Twenty-time champion jockey AP McCoy wrote: " Great result brilliant to see Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane look as happy as every other Irish person @FAIreland."

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