Saturday 1 October 2016

Martin O'Neill: It's a great old feeling

Published 16/11/2015 | 23:08

Martin O'Neill the manager of the Republic of Ireland reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match
Martin O'Neill the manager of the Republic of Ireland reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill expects a big Irish following in France next summer and praised the “magnificent” performance of his team.

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Two goals from Jon Walters secured a 2-0 win on the night and a 3-1 play-off aggregate victory and O’Neill says it is a proud day for the country.

“I’m delighted for the nation,” he said.  “I think that we will have a big following going to France. They were magnificent here tonight. They kept us going.

“We deserved to go for France. Mostly I’m delighted for the players, they have been absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t be any more pleased.

If they hold me in any sort of regard, it’s miniscule by comparison to the esteem I hold them in. They have been fantastic.”

Walters yet again was the goal scoring hero and was asked if the whole-hearted Stoke City player was Ireland’s star performer in the campaign.

“I wouldn’t disagree,” he admitted post-match. “There have been a number of fantastic performances and a fantastic number of performers and I think Walters has topped the lot. He’s been sensational. "

O’Neill will set about planning for next year’s tournament in France, with the draw taking place next month, though the former Celtic and Leicester City boss conceded the enormity of the occasion is yet to fully sink in.

“I can’t really take it all in at this moment, I’m just delighted we have done it. It’s a great achievement. It’s a great old feeling.”

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