Sunday 15 September 2019

Martin O'Neill fury with Matt Doherty as Conor Hourihane speaks of need for better guidance


Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: PA
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: PA
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill is furious with Matt Doherty for giving a radio interview that poured scorn on the departed Ireland manager's "old school" method of preparation for games.

The Wolves player spoke out in the aftermath of O'Neill's exit to offer the view that players were frequently perplexed by the absence of detail offered by management ahead of fixtures - a situation which he described as bizarre.

"You'd have a few players thinking, 'We'll play this shape', or someone else thinking something else. You can't have that, especially at international football, people not really sure on what their role is the next day," Doherty told 2FM, as part of a wider-ranging chat in which he also spoke dismissively about Roy Keane's input.

The comments have angered O'Neill and it's understood that he contacted Doherty to tell him exactly what he thought.

Reports in England suggest that both O'Neill and Keane feel that Doherty had an axe to grind because of his peripheral role in their set-up.

Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane suggested yesterday that the players might have benefited from more "guidance" although his tone was much more diplomatic.

Hourihane said that he was grateful to O'Neill for giving him international caps and added that he probably underperformed when on Ireland duty.

But the Corkman also said that he is frustrated by the perception that the current squad is limited, and also feels that a more attacking style would suit a number of players in the dressing room - himself included.

"It's hurtful to hear lads say it's a very poor squad and the worst in years," Hourihane told Off The Ball. "I don't think that's the case. I still feel strongly there is talent in the squad if the right man is there to take charge and put us in the right direction.

"I've seen lads do it in training or playing in the Championship. Lads play very well here in England and to go over there and not play well for your country, something is wrong."

Hourihane added that the recent draw with Northern Ireland and the Aviva loss to Wales was frustrating because he felt that the squads were all operating at similar levels.

He also conceded to some frustration at the selection of Cyrus Christie in midfield - although he was conscious to point out that the popular member of the squad was trying his best in an unfamiliar role.


"Are you telling me Northern Ireland have a better squad than us? Definitely not. I don't feel like we're maximising what we have right now," Hourihane continued.

"Listen, you can't really question the manager on what he did (with regard to Christie). I'd never sit here and criticise any player. Obviously it's hugely frustrating, I want to be out there playing, whoever is playing in the middle of the park, you always feel you could do something different. Fair play to Cyrus, he probably didn't feel comfortable in there but he wanted to do it for the lads.

"It was a difficult year. I think maybe when I first joined the squad, you had the likes of John O'Shea, Daryl Murphy, Wes Hoolahan, Glenn Whelan, Stephen Ward. They didn't need as much info and guidance.

"With a younger and inexperienced squad, we need every bit of help possible. All the information that is needed to compete at that level. That is where we found it frustrating."

Irish Independent

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