Monday 27 January 2020

'It's a big problem for us' - Roy Keane highlights one area where Ireland need vast improvement

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane speaking at Abbotstown Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane speaking at Abbotstown Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane has admitted that ball retention is a 'big problem' for Ireland but stressed that the end justified the means in last month's opening World Cup qualifying draw with Serbia.

Ireland's approach to that 2-2 draw in Belgrade received some criticism - with the focus on errors in possession and the style of play.

The assistant boss can see that argument but echoed comments made by Richard Dunne when stressing that it's an issue that was there right throughout his own playing career.

Keane would like to see a better performance in tomorrow night's meeting with Georgia, the first home match of the campaign, but feels that the result will shape the legacy.

"You want both. You want a good performance and obviously the right result from a selfish point of view, and that was a difficult night," he said.

"You obviously want to retain the ball better. Irish teams could have been retaining the ball better for the last 30 years, not just three months. It is a big problem in the game for us. You can talk about the things we don't do well but when you think about the things we do well, the honesty of the players, the desire, two goals away from home - it's never an easy thing to do. Against Serbia, who are no mugs, that was good. If we went away to a lesser team, and got battered, then that would be different.

"It is a game of opinions and if people want to say we could have done better in possession then I probably wouldn't disagree with them. I can understand the criticism. But if the DNA is to show fight and heart and grit then that is a nice DNA to have."

Keane added that he was never encouraged to get the ball down and play by either Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy and didn't encounter many complaints on the good days. He did concede that Dundalk's European exploits have demonstrated that Irish sides can fight hard and entertain.

"They would be a good example," he said, "Dundalk are enjoyable to watch and I take my hat off to them."

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