Saturday 1 October 2016

Roy Keane: 'Teams don't dread playing us, every match for Ireland is tough'

JOHN FALLON

Published 27/07/2015 | 15:25

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at the SSE Airtricity National U17s League Launch
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at the SSE Airtricity National U17s League Launch

Roy Keane believes Wales have the edge on Ireland because of their superior number of Premier League regulars.

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The Celtic cousins will clash during the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup which begin in September 2016.

Wales earned their place as first seeds in last Saturday’s draw primarily due to their ascent above Belgium to the summit of their Euro 2016 qualification campaign.

Asked for his response to the draw while in Dublin today to launch the League of Ireland U-17 league, the Ireland assistant boss was philosophical.

“I’m always a bit wary about draws because people say they’re either good or bad,” he reasoned.

“I never see draws like that. As a senior Ireland player, I thought we sometimes got a good draw but didn’t do well in the campaign while we did better when I thought the draw was okay.

27 July 2015; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane with Aine Murphy, SSE Airtricity, Fran Gavin, Director of the National League, and Ruud Dokter, FAI High Performance Director, with players, from left, Aodh Dervin, Longford Town FC, Conor Fowler, St. Patrick's Athletic, Cian Collins, Shamrock Rovers, Owen Folan, Mervue United, Ruadhan Feeney, Sligo Rovers, David Forture, Athtlone Town, and Christopher Horgan, Salthill Devon. SSE Airtricity National U17s League Launch. FAI HQ, Abbotstown, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
27 July 2015; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane with Aine Murphy, SSE Airtricity, Fran Gavin, Director of the National League, and Ruud Dokter, FAI High Performance Director, with players, from left, Aodh Dervin, Longford Town FC, Conor Fowler, St. Patrick's Athletic, Cian Collins, Shamrock Rovers, Owen Folan, Mervue United, Ruadhan Feeney, Sligo Rovers, David Forture, Athtlone Town, and Christopher Horgan, Salthill Devon. SSE Airtricity National U17s League Launch. FAI HQ, Abbotstown, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

“All I know is the draw is tough but we’ll look forward to the games. Like the point Martin (O’Neill) made last week, it seemed strange to have the draw when we’ve still important Euro qualifiers coming up. It seems strange when people try to distract you from that.

“I don’t think teams will dread playing us. Every draw at the moment for Ireland is going to be tough.

“Wales have come in on the back of some good results. That will give their players some confidence and looks like they’ll qualify for the Euros.

“A lot of their players are at a good age, they’re maturing well, whether that’s their captain Gareth Bale or Aaron Ramsey.

“I think sometimes a team just comes together. Whatever you say about the rankings, they deserve it because they’ve got some good players.

“They’ve a lot of lads playing in the Premier League. Never mind Bale and Ramsey who are playing in the Champions League. That’s the highest level of club football. That rubs off on the other players in the squad, working with better players rubs off.

“We’re behind Wales in terms of numbers. We’re still short of players who play regularly in the Premier League. Not all are regulars, some are in the Championship. I keep saying it and I’ll continue saying it – we need more players playing regularly in the Premier League.”

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