Thursday 21 November 2019

O'Shea confident Ireland can 'cause Poland problems on the counter-attack'

Republic of Ireland's John O'Shea during squad training
Republic of Ireland's John O'Shea during squad training

Liam Kelly

John O'Shea has called for another huge effort by the Republic of Ireland squad to clinch qualification for Euro 2016 in Warsaw tomorrow night.

"Now we've beaten Germany, we have the confidence of knowing that there's a freedom there, that the play-offs are taken care of and you have a real chance," he said.

"There will be a little bit more pressure on Poland at home. They are fully aware of what we've done, and the confidence that we'll get from beating Germany.

"But look, we need another big shift, another big performance to get the three points."

O'Shea's leadership and experience came to the fore in impressive fashion on Thursday night as heroic (albeit at times lucky) Ireland defied mighty Germany at the Aviva Stadium.

Tired legs, tired minds and bruised bodies must all be forgotten for one last big push to avoid the play-offs.

The warrior spirit displayed by Sunderland stalwart O'Shea (right) and Richard Keogh at the heart of the Irish defence typified the attitude of the home team against the Germans.

Considering Cyrus Christie is still a novice at this level, and that Stephen Ward has not made a single league appearance for Burnley this season, the guts and character shown by the back four was immense.

More of the same will be required from each man in all sectors of the team Martin O'Neill selects for the Poland match tomorrow.

Part of the manager's job will be to ensure the squad can let the euphoria of Thursday percolate out of their system as they face up to formidable opposition.

The nation was still in a state of awe and delight at the victory over the world champions, but the players cannot afford to dwell on that achievement, however glorious.

O'Shea knows that Poland are forewarned and are dangerous on their home territory.

Keeping the Poles - and particularly star striker Robert Lewandowski - scoreless would be a major achievement.

"It will be a team effort and we have shown that all through the campaign," said O'Shea.

"I think we have the best defensive record in the campaign and that's not just come from the defenders, it's the goalkeepers, the midfield unit and the players have stuck together and given it everything together.

"We'll be confident of causing them problems. We have Shane Long, Daryl Murphy, Jonny Walters and Robbie Keane, plenty of players to cause them problems."

The Irish managed the match against the Germans very well, defending in depth, closing down space and breaking forward when possible.

That template will once again be employed in Warsaw as O'Neill's team sets out their stall to rein in the passionate Poles.

"You have to show that we can sit in at stages in the game and cause them problems on the counter attack. That will be key for us," said O'Shea

"They're the home team and will be pushing and pressing a lot more, but we can cause them a lot of problems on the counter."

The worst case scenario is that the Irish have to settle for a play-off.

"We have a great chance of automatic qualification now and it's a great position to be in," said O'Shea.

Irish Independent

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