'John O'Shea shouldn't have been left out'- Eamon Dunphy's pre-game warning proves prophetic
Following Ireland’s heart-breaking 2-1 loss to France, Eamon Dunphy has echoed his pre-game statement that it was a grave error to omit a player of John O’Shea’s experience from such a pivotal contest.
So often, Eamon Dunphy’s diatribes regarding Ireland players and the ethos of Martin O’Neill should be taken with a grain of salt, however, his misgivings about the selection of Richard Keogh and Shane Duffy at the heart of the defence have proven prescient.
Of course, Ireland got off to a flying start, as Paul Pogba bowled over Shane Long and Robbie Brady converted the subsequent spot kick to give the underdogs the lead after just two minutes.
Ireland were patently the better side in the opening period and, to be fair to Dunphy, he lauded the performance in the first 45 minutes as among the best he’d witnessed from an Irish team at a major tournament.
There was a caveat; expect an onslaught in the early goings of the second half and, indeed, it duly came.
In three frantic minutes either side of the hour Antoine Griezmann netted two fine goals, both of which were facilitated by the naivety of Keogh and Duffy, who was playing in just his second competitive international.
“You’ve got to repel the first wave of aggression from the team that’s chasing the game and we didn’t do that unfortunately,” Dunphy said on RTÉ.
“You’d have to give credit to everyone involved for moments of magic against Italy. In the first half today, I thought we were magnificent but, in the end with colder analysis, I think John O’Shea shouldn’t have been left out of the team.
“He’s very experienced, he marshals our defence. I think the winning goal shows the inexperience of Duffy and Keogh, it was a horrendous goal to give away at the time, at any time. I don’t want to spoil what has generally been a happy time by being too rigorous.
“But I don’t think you can leave a player of John O’Shea’s experience out of your team, and create a new centre of defence partnership that’s never played together and I think the second goal proves that.
The replays of Griezmann’s match deciding strike vindicated Dunphy’s thoughts, which were also confirmed by Liam Brady And John Giles.
Duffy needlessly attacked the ball as Keogh challenged Olivier Giroud, who got a telling touch which took the Irish pair out of the equation and left Griezmann with the time and space to dispatch a cool finish beyond Darren Randolph.
Duffy was then sent off for a desperate challenge on Griezmann, though the Irish side continued to trouble the French until the very end.