'I'd like Roy Keane to stay' - Martin O'Neill wants Irish management to remain intact
Published 27/06/2016 | 10:33
The morning after the afternoon before and Irish manager Martin O'Neill is still ruing the chance that got away - to play in a Euro 2016 quarter-final in Paris next Sunday.
"I'm still a bit disappointed about yesterday," he said at the final media briefing at the team's Versailles base, "disappointed that we couldn't carry it through.
"We were in a great position at half-time. The goals we conceded were not brilliant from our viewpoint but to take it all into consideration, I'm very proud of our team and the support we received. A combination of both made it really possible for something great to happen."
He will leave a decision on retirement to the older players themselves. "That decision will be up to the players but the likes of Robbie Keane, Shay Given, John O'Shea and I'd include Glenn Whelan in that too, have been really terrific around the team. I wouldn't have been without them in that sense, it's only when you are in the tournament that you realise how influential those players can be.
"I think they took the disappointment of the third game on the chin and never let it show at all. They were the first ones up to support the team. It's entirely up to them."
O'Neill will formally commit to another term as Irish manager in the next few weeks.
He spent this morning reflecting on a superb Irish effort at Euro 2016 and already looking forward to jousting with Wales, Austria and Serbia for a place at the 2018 World Cup.
"The first qualifier is only 70 days away, you know, and that time will fly by," said O'Neill.
He is also talking about the newer players coming through and given that the FAI would be lynched up in Abbotstown if they let their man leave, it seems safe to say that O'Neill's recent handshake with FAI boss John Delaney will be turned into a definite contract soon enough.
"I'd like Roy Keane to stay too," added the Irish boss. " I will sit down with him. To a certain extent I'm misleading you. Those conversations have mostly already taken place, I think Roy would like to do it and I think we're pretty well all in place if the FAI board want to continue on.
"It's just that I didn't want to see the board last night," he said cheekily.
"My contract officially ended about a minute and a half after the result. But I don't see that being an issue now. I've agreed with John and would be happy to continue on if he's still feeling that way.
"I'm still a bit disappointed about yesterday, disappointed we couldn't carry it through. We were in a great position at half-time, the goals we conceded were not brilliant from our viewpoint.
"But to take it all into consideration, I'm very proud of team and the support we received. The combination of both made it really possible for something great to happen. It could have happened."
"Sweden got us off to a fantastic start even though it was only one point. There was pride and disappointment in equal measure that didn't get all three points when we should have done," the manager continued.
"Then we were not so good against Belgium, we didn't play with same intensity and kept giving ball away cheaply. Then, typically, we roared back against Italy, and we had France scared yesterday, really scared. I know that people in Ireland very proud of the team."