Shay Given has revealed that a few choice words from Martin O’Neill at half time sparked Ireland into action in their 1-1 draw with Poland at the Aviva Stadium last night.
Donegal man Given made his competitive return for the Boys In Green at the expense of David Forde and insists that he had the full support of the latter as well as Keiren Westwood.
Given didn’t have too much to do in the early stages before picking the ball out of the net after 26 minutes when Peszko scored.
Ireland put in a laboured first-half performance, devoid of any attacking nous while giving the ball away cheaply in midfield.
But Martin O’Neill’s men looked a different side after the break and Given says that is down to the manager “demanding more off certain players” during his half-time team talk.
“The second-half performance was very encouraging. We were disappointed with how we played the first half and the manager let us know at half time that it wasn’t good enough and we picked it up in the second half,” said Given on tonight’s Off The Ball show on Newstalk.
“We were camped in their half for most of the second half but the longer the game goes on and you don’t score you think they might go home with a 1-0 victory but thankfully Longy popped up late on.”
When asked on why it took Ireland so long to get any sort of momentum going, Given could not put his finger on it.
“It’s hard to say. It was such a huge game and perhaps some of the lads were nervous but there was a lot of experience there as well. We just didn’t seem to get going, there was a lot of misplaced passes.
“Martin changed a few things at half time and demanded more off certain players and you seen the reaction.”
Eyebrows were raised before the match when it was revealed that Given would start in goal despite David Forde putting in good performances for Ireland in previous games.
Given, who won his 128th cap last night, confirmed that he had the support of both Forde and Keiren Westwood.
“We did speak briefly, me and David. We (the goalkeepers) are a tight group. Whoever got the nod was going to be supported,” continued Given.
“Had David played last night I would have supported him and vice versa. If Westwood had of played as well, we are a tight knit group. They were all very supportive when they found out I was playing.
“When I look back in a few years, I don’t want to retire with any regrets. I want to give something back to my country in my last year or two and I just didn’t want to have that regret I suppose.
“Last night was special, it was a huge qualifier and a great atmosphere in the Aviva – the best we have had so far."