Saturday 19 October 2019

'As players on the pitch we have to take responsibility' - Seamus Coleman backs Roy Keane claim

Declan Rice, left, and Seamus Coleman
Declan Rice, left, and Seamus Coleman

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Séamus Coleman thinks long and hard before using a four-letter word to describe Ireland's performance against France in Paris on Monday.

Of course there's no obscenity escaping from his lips to worry the censors and the FAI handlers – it's Seamus Coleman who never puts his foot in his mouth.

"Poor", that's the word he uses when looking back on the 2-0 loss in Paris.

And, as Ireland weigh up the threat of the USA in Dublin tomorrow night and the need to end a rare (and unwelcome) three-game losing streak, the Ireland captain admits that Roy Keane was right to criticise the squad's senior players for failing to do better against Turkey in March.

Coleman also stresses the need for the senior international to be "brave" when it comes to being in possession of the ball, after a run of games where ball retention by the players in Ireland shirts appears to be a skill they've yet to learn.

"No matter where you look, international or club level, when results aren't going well you do look, and should look, to the senior pros to lift the standards to make sure everything is done properly," says Coleman.

"You can't be expecting the likes of Seán Maguire or Declan Rice to be dragging us forward, it's up to us as senior players to do that. I have no problem with that, and to be honest he's right."

He was responding to Keane's comments after the 1-0 loss in Turkey that the most disappointing aspect of the defeat was not the efforts of the new caps, but the display by older players.

"France didn't necessarily cut us open for any of the goals, it was two mistakes which we are disappointed with.

"What we are more disappointed with, all of us, was our standard on the ball, I thought we were very poor, we gave the ball away, five/six yard passes, not looking for the ball.

"As players on the pitch we have to take responsibility for that, there's no instruction to get it at our feet and kick it to Shane Long. Us on the pitch need to take responsibility, step up and show angles and be better on the ball as we were poor on the ball," adds Coleman.

"It's not just always the managers, we are the players on the pitch and in training we can look for the ball and get on the ball. On Saturday we need to do the same, make sure we are brave enough to make them decisions."

Tomorrow's game closes off a season which Coleman will be glad to see the back of, having missed a chunk of the campaign with the broken leg which he picked up on Ireland duty, the national team missing out on World Cup qualification and his club struggling their way through a few managers.

"I'll keep getting fitter and fitter. I finished the season quite strongly for my club and I'm looking forward to bringing that into next season with Everton and making sure that I'm part of the plans," said the former Sligo Rovers man.

"We also have four big games with Ireland when we come back and we really just want to kick on.

"I want to qualify with this group and want to be at those tournaments with this Irish group.

"At club level, I desperately want to win something. We need to do that. It's just far too long (1995) and it's something that we are longing for at the club and something that we desperately need."

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