Friday 19 October 2018

Martin O'Neill still backs David Meyler in penalty shootout for Ireland despite missing in training

David Meyler of Republic of Ireland ahead of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 1st Leg match between Denmark and Republic of Ireland at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
David Meyler of Republic of Ireland ahead of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 1st Leg match between Denmark and Republic of Ireland at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Miguel Delaney

Martin O’Neill jokingly revealed that David Meyler missed a penalty in training as the player sat beside him in Ireland’s pre-match press conference ahead of their World Cup play-off second leg against Denmark in Dublin, but insisted he would still back the midfielder to take on if it came to it on Tuesday.

With the score at 0-0 following a dreary first leg in Copenhagen, the prospect of a shoot-out hangs over the match, although O’Neill pointed out how the simple process of one goal going in could change that.

“You have to try and cover all eventualities but it only takes a second to score a goal,” O’Neill said. “The minute a goal is scored in the game, that eradicates a lot of things - extra time, penalties...

“We will try to score. To keep out Denmark for two games that would be tough.”

Asked whether they practiced penalties, O’Neill responded immediately deadpanned “Meyler missed” before clarifying: “He could still be [in the five], missing in practice different from big game.”

Should the game finish 0-0, extra-time and possibly penalties may be required to separate the sides and Ireland have prepared for just that eventuality.

However, O'Neill knows from experience that all the preparation in the world cannot replicate that moment, illustrating his point by reference to the 1984 European Cup final in which Roma's Falcao and Toninho did not step up for a shoot-out against Liverpool.

He said: "I've done it umpteen times before, both as a player and as a manager. Generally speaking, those lads who volunteer to take them in practice won't take them in matches.

"Remember that great final between Liverpool and Roma? A couple of great Brazilians, the best players in the world, downed tools and wouldn't take them."

For his part, Meyler is very enthusiastic about taking a penalty when asked. “Yes, yes, yes!” the midfielder responded.

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