Saturday 22 October 2016

'It couldn't have been better for us' - Martin O'Neill beams after Holland draw

Published 27/05/2016 | 22:54

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill before the game
Action Images via Reuters / John Sibley
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill before the game Action Images via Reuters / John Sibley

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was very pleased with the evening's work his side put in tonight in their 1-1 draw with the Netherlands at the Aviva Stadium.

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In-form Shane Long was ideally placed to flick home a loose ball after John O’Shea’s header had been blocked on the line after 30 minutes for his 16th international goal.

Substitute Luuk De Jong equalised late on from Jetro Willems’s perfect cross.

The only thing bright about Holland was their luminous orange shirts, which appeared to glow under the floodlights. They did not manage a single attack of note before half-time and looked utterly uninspired.

Ireland, in contrast, played like a side getting ready for a tournament adventure rather than the beach. The only thing left to decide is who makes the final 23-man squad, which manager Martin O’Neill will not name until after Tuesday’s final friendly against Belarus.

Of those still auditioning, Bournemouth’s Harry Arter was busy in midfield and was named man of the match, while Ipswich Town’s David McGoldrick seems far more likely to go than Colorado Rapids striker Kevin Doyle.

"I thought it was really fine, it was a really good workout for us. Holland are a really fine side. They keep the ball very well," Martin O'Neill told Setanta Sports after the game

"I thought throughout, a draw was about a fair result. I thought we were going to hold on but that said, it couldn't have been better for us.

"For everyone concerned, I think it was very important for them. There were some players who, injury apart, will be with me in France and some players who would think they have a point to prove because of the amount of games they have played this season.

"I think Harry did well, young Quinn did well in the game and I thought that we started off pretty brightly then the Dutch had the ball for quite considerable time, then we score from our set-piece which was great and I thought that we started to dictate things for a while and up until half-time I felt we were worth the lead.

"In the second half, I think the number of changes that were made by both sides took a little sting out of the game and it became a wee bit open so it was hardly surprising that a goal was scored near the end.

"The lads that didn't play will train tomorrow. The whole squad will then report back on Sunday night."

Shane Duffy lost De Jong for the Dutch equaliser but O'Neill was pleased with Blackburn Rovers man's showing.

"(Shane Duffy) had another excellent performance. He has come on leaps and bounds. I thought he did very well."

O'Neill hinted that goalscorer Long may be rested for the Belarus game at Turner's Cross on Tuesday night and that Robbie Keane would feature.

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