Tuesday 21 November 2017

It is heartbreaking, we're all devastated for Seamus - Meyler

Martin O’Neill shakes hands with Wales manager Chris Coleman. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin O’Neill shakes hands with Wales manager Chris Coleman. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Kelly and Cian Tracey

The clash of Celtic cousins always had the makings of a tough, hard-fought derby, but the damaging tackle inflicted by Neil Taylor of Wales on Irish skipper Seamus Coleman took the level of intensity to another, unacceptable level.

Coleman's leg fracture in the 69th minute resulted in an immediate red card for the offender, and led to a hectic closing period to the match.

The home side threw everything they could at the Welsh but fell just short. Afterwards, man of the match James McClean reflected on an emotional end to an emotional week.

McClean, a proud son of Derry, was devastated at the death of Derry City skipper Ryan McBride and also by the passing of Martin McGuinness.

He has become one of the key figures for the Irish as this campaign develops, and Martin O'Neill's men needed the West Brom winger to recalibrate his focus for a demanding Group D clash.

Credit to McClean, he delivered in every way bar managing to find a goal that would have turned a decent point to a sensational victory.

"With Seamus' injury it would have been nice to be going in on a winning note, but we are still four points ahead of them. It's not the worst. I have had better weeks. I lost two good friends this week in Ryan McBride, and off the field as well in Martin who was a big influence in my life. He was a leader, I knew him well and we had a good relationship.

"The manager was first class.

"He let me go up to Derry on Tuesday to say my goodbyes.

"They were in my thoughts last night and I wanted a performance to make them proud.

"Hearing the national anthem and having my wee girl with me, I tried to put that to one side and hopefully I did the two lads proud," said McClean.

On the outcome of the match and the performance of the two teams, McClean was typically honest and up front with his verdict.

"It was a battle. If I am being honest, Wales were better than us on the night. They passed the ball well.

"We were a bit sloppy and we can play better, but we are still undefeated and we are still four points ahead of them.

"I had a chance that on another night it might have gone in but it was just wide of the post. It's not a defeat, it's a point so let's push on," he said.

David Meyler, thrust into action at the last minute when James McCarthy incurred a hamstring strain in the warm-up, spoke about the effect Seamus Coleman's injury had on his team mates.

"Look, we are all devastated for Seamus, it is heartbreaking. The poor fellow, he has had a bad injury and we are all thinking of him and his family. I am sure he is gutted.

"Seamus is the captain of the team, he is vital to us, he is a big personality around the changing room and we are all thinking about him," said Meyler.

John O'Shea got the call to duty in the absence of Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy and the veteran acquitted himself well at the heart of the Irish backline.

"We should have won, especially against ten men," he said.

"If we had got that goal in the last ten minutes we would have deserved it, but our thoughts are with Seamus. He will come back better and stronger. He has a fantastic attitude."

The Wales manager Chris Coleman was in particularly spiky from as he batted away the notion that his players lost their temper as Ireland stifled their attacking threat.

In the 10 minutes that Coleman addressed the media afterwards, not a single question was put to him by a Welsh journalist during the conference and his frustration levels visibly grew as it wore on.

The questions kept coming and as he shrugged them off, Coleman repeatedly referring to the 'Britishness' of the game.

"Your boys are not coming off there with halos over the heads," Coleman insisted.

"It was going on all the way through the game. I'm not complaining, it was a typical British game of football. There were one or two complaints from our boys when your boys left it in here and there and some of our boys did as well.

"That's football."

With regard to Taylor, Coleman confirmed that the defender had gone to the dressing room afterwards to apologise but he was unsure if he found him. He certainly didn't as O'Neill had already revealed that his skipper had left in an ambulance.

"Sadly for Seamus, it looks like a bad one," the Wales boss said.

"Neil Taylor is not that type of player, he had a serious injury himself. He's a great player, cracking lad.

Respect

"I've not seen the challenge but I've seen the outcome. It's a shame for Seamus because he's someone I respect and he is one of the best full-backs in the Premier League. I hope he's not out for too long.

"Neil Taylor is devastated himself but that's not going to make Seamus feel any better. He went in to see Seamus at the end. I'm not sure if he got hold of him but he went over there.

"In a game like, it's a typical British derby, there is needle all the way through it.

"There is no excuse for a bad challenge but there was needle all the way through the game.

"If the ball is there to be won, you've got to go for it. It's a contact sport but no one should have a serious injury.

"If I see it again and it is a real bad one then it is a surprise because he is not that kind of boy. I just hope Seamus will be back sooner rather than later."

Irish Independent

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