'No excuses, let's run with it'- Martin O'Neill ready for French resistance
On the immediate cusp of the most significant game of his short career in international management, Martin O’Neill had no interest in cashing in on pre-emptive excuses.
Ireland face the host nation in Lyon in minutes as they seek to pull off what surely would be the biggest upset of the European Championships to date and, in turn, seal their place in the quarter finals.
O’Neill has retained the same team that beat Italy last Wednesday and is ready to see the last three years of work culminate in the most stunning fashion.
“It’s exactly what we want. We want to be involved in these games. We said that from the outset two years ago, when Aiden McGeady scored the two goals against Georgia to get us off to a good start.
“We’ve had setbacks since then and the players have come back, so we deserve to be here and it’s up to us now to do our very best.
“Jon Walters is improving, that’s good news. Stephen Ward did a little bit of training, declared himself fit and I think he’s going to be fine.
“We have other things to take into consideration; the possibility of a long afternoon, so the substitutions are going to be very important.”
The France team have enjoyed a long period of rest since winning their group and, with the stifling conditions, it seems the odds have been furthered stacked against the Boys in Green. O’Neill was having none of it.
"It is roasting I must admit, but you can make all sorts of excuses about a short turnaround, the French had three more days to prepare, and unfairness with tickets and all that type of stuff, but you know what? In two days’ time no-one’s going to remember that.
"We’ve got to go with it, run with it, the players are prepared so let’s take it on."