Sunday 25 September 2016

'Roy Keane has been enormous for us' - Martin O'Neill heaps praise on his assistant

Published 16/11/2015 | 23:04

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane celebrate after the game. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane celebrate after the game. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Martin O'Neill has hailed the contribution of his assistant manager Roy Keane after Ireland secured their place in draw for Euro 2016 on December 12.

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Two goals from Jonathan Walters earned a 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin on Monday meaning, the hosts reached France 3-1 on aggregate.

It is just the third time the Republic have qualified for the European Championships and they join England, Wales and Northern Ireland at next year's tournament.

O'Neill said the decision to bring Roy Keane in as his assistant had more than paid off.

"Bringing Roy Keane in is as good a decision as I've made in quite some time," said O'Neill.

"He's been absolutely enormous for us. He's not taking too many of the accolades, but he's been fantastic for us, for myself, the backroom staff and the players."

O'Neill also praised the players who had made it to Euro 2016.

"I couldn't be more proud (of the players), they've been absolutely fantastic right from the start (of qualifying)," he added.

"The esteem I hold these players in it couldn't be higher.

"This is a special night. It is very, very special, it can't be taken away from us.

"When I look back I'll think this is a very, very proud moment."

Ray Houghton, who earned 73 caps for Ireland and played in the 1994 World Cup, told BBC Radio 5 Live O'Neill and Keane have worked wonders.

He said: "Martin is one of those managers who has grown into the job, if you see him game by game he was getting more involved. The same with Roy Keane.

"This means so much to Martin. It's been a long haul, a lot of effort and blood, sweat and tears has gone into this team.

"It's about every player who goes out there and pulls that green shirt and they will go into battle with anyone."

Ireland and Stoke goalkeeper Shay Given - out with a knee injury - also praised the duo.

"Eyebrows were raised when they first came in. We didn't know what they were going to be like either but Martin and Roy have done what they set out to do," said the 39-year-old on 5 Live.

"They have really clicked together, they have struck up a real friendship over the course of the last couple of years."

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