Monday 16 July 2018

Martin O'Neill confident Republic of Ireland can get a result in Cardiff

The Republic of Ireland beat Moldova
The Republic of Ireland beat Moldova

Martin O'Neill is confident the Republic of Ireland can go to Wales on Monday and win to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Friday night's 2-0 victory over Moldova at the Aviva Stadium, coupled with Wales' 1-0 win in Georgia and leaders Serbia's 3-2 defeat in Austria left Group D wide open with the three nations engaged in a tooth and nail scrap for the top two spots.

Only another three points will be good enough for the Irish and their Welsh counterparts to remain in the hunt, and O'Neill is relishing the showdown at the Cardiff City Stadium.

He said: "Regardless of their result in Georgia today, we have to go and win the match.

"I didn't want to be talking about a game that's in the future when we might not get a result here. A couple of early goals against Moldova obviously settled our nerves, which was great, and we went on to win.

"Now talking about Wales, we go and apply ourselves, really play very strongly and resolutely, and I think we can win the match.

"I felt it was always going to be like this. When we get off to a decent start, the mindset changes a little bit in terms of points, but if you had said to me right at the beginning when the group was drawn that we'd have to go to Wales and win - and we were down as fourth seeds - I would have taken it, so let's go for it."

With key men Robbie Brady and James McClean available to face Wales after suspension, O'Neill may shuffle his pack once again on a night when he knows opposite number Chris Coleman will not have superstar Gareth Bale at his disposal.

He said: "Wales would naturally miss a player of that calibre, but we've got a world-class player missing ourselves in Seamus Coleman. He's been missing and in my mind, he's as big a loss to us as Gareth Bale is to Wales.

"But Gareth Bale is a world-class player and of course, he's a major threat. Him not playing I think helps, but Wales have been able to win matches without him, so I think their mindset is still pretty strong.

"But so is ours."

Ireland head for Cardiff with their fate in their own hands thanks to three men at very different stages of their international careers.

If it was 35-year-old Wes Hoolahan and 22-year-old Callum O'Dowda - making his first competitive start - who provided the invention and the pace which paved the way for victory, it was striker Daryl Murphy at 34 who made it count with a close-range second-minute finish and a fine 20th-minute header.

O'Neill said: "The second goal he scored was particularly brilliant because he was leaning back a little bit. I'm really pleased for him.

"He's normally at 60 minutes usually calling for a stretcher anyway at some stage or another, so I think he was surprised to find out that he was still playing after 71 or 72 minutes."

Moldova boss Igor Dobrovolski's post-match press conference was a study in brevity.

Asked about his side's campaign, he replied: "We had quite a difficult group." And then in a response to a question about midfielder Alexandru Gatcan's injury-time dismissal, he replied: "He was not provoked, it just happened."

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport