Thursday 29 September 2016

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has Georgia on his mind

Published 04/09/2015 | 23:24

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (left) swiftly turned his attention to Monday's clash with Georgia
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (left) swiftly turned his attention to Monday's clash with Georgia

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill turned his attention to Monday's Euro 2016 qualifying showdown with Georgia within minutes of his side's 4-0 victory over Gibraltar.

  • Go To

Ireland's hopes of reaching next summer's finals received a timely boost hours before kick-off at the Estadio Algarve in Faro when Group D rivals Scotland lost 1-0 to the Georgians in Tbilisi.

However, their efforts in Portugal will count for little if they do not come away from the Georgia game with three more points, and that was O'Neill's focus in the immediate aftermath of a routine victory.

He said: "I have said before that any team going to Tbilisi is going to find it difficult. For us tonight regardless of that result, we had to win and the result I was concerned about was the one against Gibraltar.

"They have improved and they showed that before half-time. Shay [Given] made a good save and Cyrus [Christie] a little back-header when an equaliser might have put us under bit of pressure.

"But it was nice to get the second goal and win comfortably eventually. We won well in the end and we'll now try to get prepared for Monday.

"You have to take both games into consideration. It's nice to have won here, but there's no time to dwell on it. We fly in an hour or two to Dublin and we are going in good spirits.

"But I saw a little of the Scotland game and enough to know there's a renewed spirit about them [Georgia], and it won't be easy for us to try to win the game."

Ireland had to wait 26 minutes to get their noses in front, and the goal came from an unlikely source when right-back Cyrus Christie, deputising for the injured Seamus Coleman - the Everton man missed out with a tight hamstring, but is expected to be fit for Monday's game - marked his first competitive appearance for his country with his first goal.

Christie, who is yet to open his account for his club side Derby, said: "It's a great moment for me, to score for Ireland in front of a lot of fans and my family watching it on TV.

"It was a good goal for me - but it means nothing if we don't follow it up on Monday."

The lead remained slender until skipper Robbie Keane, who scored a 13-minute hat-trick in a 7-0 win over the same opposition in October last year, helped himself to a double inside three minutes at the start of the second half.

That took the 35-year-old to 67 international goals, just one behind former Germany star Gerd Muller.

O'Neill said: "I didn't realise that was the case. It's fantastic, absolutely fantastic, at international level."

Substitute Shane Long completed what was ultimately a comfortable victory with an 80th-minute header as a good night for the Republic drew to a close.

Gibraltar boss Jeff Wood was proud of his players' efforts, but praised O'Neill for his approach.

He said: "Martin O'Neill and Ireland, credit to them, they have looked at what we did against Germany and they put us under pressure right from the first whistle."

Press Association

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport