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Sunday 16 June 2019

Ireland slain by dragons as fans question if time is up for O'Neill

Evan Connolly (10) and brother Reece (8), from Swords, Co Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Evan Connolly (10) and brother Reece (8), from Swords, Co Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Ireland supporters endured another night of frustration at the Aviva Stadium - as pressure mounted on Martin O'Neill after a 1-0 loss to Wales.

Reacting to the defeat, Paidi Fitzpatrick from Clare said it was time for a change of management. "If you're gonna change, you have to do it before the draw, so it's stick or twist time now and I'd be inclined to twist," he said.

His pal Patrick Bolger echoed these views, insisting its "time to go" for boss O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane.

Pat McCabe, from Kilnamanagh, Dublin, described the performance as "poor enough" but said O'Neill should be kept on until the end of the qualifying campaign, and then a new manager should be brought in by the FAI.

Despite the contest being tight for much of the first 50 minutes, it was the Welsh who took the lead from a Harry Wilson free-kick with just over half an hour to play to win 1-0.

To compound the misery for the FAI, there were plenty of empty seats inside the stadium as fans voted with their feet.

Perhaps this was down to pricey tickets as much as the recent results.

Eoin Lynch, from Ashbourne, Co Meath, attended the game with his nephew Ryan (9) and lamented the high prices for a "glorified friendly".

He said the FAI should look at reducing prices to get more families in, explaining how much he spent on his own ticket for the game.

"Seventy euro is a bit much, I thought, for a mid-week match for one ticket - for an adult ticket; the child is €20, which is fair enough," he said. "Even €50 wouldn't have been too bad."

Nonetheless, it certainly wasn't keeping the hardcore supporters away.

Pa Daly made the trip up to the capital all the way from Kerry with his son Fionn (10) and his pal Sean Cantwell (10).

They left Tralee more than six hours before kick-off and were due to arrive home again in the early hours of this morning.

But it's the "labour of love", he explained, even if the team aren't much good at the moment.

"We were up on Saturday night as well and up for the training session last Tuesday. We like to support them anyway," he said.

"I love the atmosphere around the games, it's a sport that generally reaches out to all classes. I'll support the team even if the football isn't the greatest. We collected the lads out of school early at about half past one."

And while Fionn and Sean were veterans at Irish matches, some were only making their debut.

Mason McEntagart (6), from Ballyfermot, Dublin, was one of three generations, along with his dad John and grandfather Jack.

It was his first taste of a live football match - but the family expect it to become a regular occurrence.

"We're trying to get him used to the crowd, we want to get him over to see Manchester United after Christmas," Jack said.

"He's all excited all day, all talk about it, wants everything bought, hats, scarves the lot," he added.

Luke O'Brien, from Swords, Co Dublin, backed O'Neill and Keane, insisting they were still the right men to lead the team.

"The mood is very positive after the last game. Every team has its bad game, I believe they're playing better football," he said.

Irish Independent

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