"It was back to the bad, sterile stuff" - Eamon Dunphy questions Martin O'Neill's football values

Tom Rooney

Eamon Dunphy has pulled no punches in his scathing criticism of Martin O’Neill, and questioned the Derryman’s football values after the Republic of Ireland’s defeat at the hands of Poland.

Despite the loss, in what was a disjointed affair, Ireland are still guaranteed a place in the playoffs, but Dunphy found little solace in that, particularly after the fine display against Germany on Thursday.

He claimed that O’Neill had returned to the blunt approach that saw Ireland lose to and draw with Scotland earlier in the campaign.

“It was back to bad, sterile football. Not people getting on the ball and wanting to play and no passing in midfield. They didn’t have to work to get the ball; we gave it back to them time after time.

“After last week, when we really put on a bit of a performance against a strong German team, this was O’Neill, who’s responsible for this, reverting to the way we played against Scotland, the way played against Germany away, apart from the last 20 minutes when Hoolahan came on.

“It raises massive question marks about Martin O’Neill’s values. We should be going to the European Championships by right- we have the players to do it,” he added.

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When it was put to him that, had Richard Keogh’s header beaten Łukasz Fabiański, and Ireland held on for a 2-2 draw, which would have seen them qualify for France automatically, then O’Neill would have been vindicated, Dunphy rebuked the notion.

“You see it in the lower levels in England, you see it in the Phoenix Park; guys are desperate and they start lumping balls forward, the defender makes a mistake and you get a half chance. International football requires more sophistication.

“I saw an Irish team tonight with a number of players copping out and not taking responsibility to get on the ball – McCarthy, Whelan.”

Although he tempered his comments in comparison, Liam Brady concurred with Dunphy. He went onto say that, over the course of the campaign, Ireland did not do enough to take second place in the Pool.

“I don’t think we did enough to finish second over the course of the 10 games. The group order that we have is the right one.

“Poland were better than us tonight, and they were better than us over the course of the group.

“Poland were physically strong enough to coped with our Route 1 tactics. You could see from the team Martin picked tonight that we were only ever going to play one way, and it started in the first minute,” he said.