Saturday 24 August 2019

WATCH: 'We can fight back' - Martin O'Neill storms out of RTE interview after humiliating defeat to Denmark

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill Newsdesk Newsdesk

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has defiantly declared that Ireland can bounce back from their resounding 5-1 World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark.

Christian Eriksen plundered a stunning hat-trick as Denmark shot the Republic of Ireland's World Cup dreams down in flames to book their ticket to Russia in emphatic style.

The Tottenham midfielder, who had been effectively shackled in Copenhagen on Saturday evening, took the second leg of the play-off tie by the scruff of the neck with two superb finishes either side of half-time before lashing home a third late on.

In the process, he took his tally for the campaign to 11 goals, just two fewer than the Republic managed in their 12 games in the competition, before substitute Nicklas Bendtner converted a last-minute penalty.

Denmark boss Age Hareide had forecast that old friend Martin O'Neill could not be as negative as he had been at the Parken Stadium, and was confident his players could exploit that.

His assertion proved astute as despite taking an early lead through Shane Duffy's header, Ireland were simply unable to find the right balance between attack and defence after Cyrus Christie's own goal had restored parity.

The organisation which had characterised the Republic progression to the play-offs disintegrated horribly and in the end, they were picked off in ruthless fashion.

O'Neill had no qualms with the result but felt the game could have gone differently had James McClean doubled Ireland's lead before the Dane's equaliser.

"We were well beaten in the end. No question about that. We obviously got off to a great start and perhaps James second goal (had he scored) might have made a big difference in the game," he said.

"We conceded two really slopping goals in a matter of minutes and it was a long way back after that.

"The goals are so sloppy when you look back at them. They are so, so bad.

"There is two-on-one for a corner and Harry gets beaten but we should still be able to clear the ball and we haven't done that and the next goal is a comedy of mistakes.

"The whole mindset changes, you are 2-1 down in a matter of minutes when perhaps six minutes earlier you could have been 2-0 up."

O'Neill was questioned about the logic behind taking off two central midfielders for two more attack-minded players in Aiden McGeady im Wes Hoolahan.

"That's the name of the game, we have to go for it. There is no point in dying wondering. We had to get two goals back," he added.

Asked if it was a humiliation, he said: "I'd say we were well beaten."

"We're capable of coming back from it. We've been beaten but been beaten in a playoff game. In the end we have lost a playoff game to take us to a World Cup. We'll come back again."

O'Neill became tetchy towards the end of the interview with Tony O'Donoghue and stormed out after launching a defence of his tenure.

"We've played 24 games in qualification over the last two campaigns and we've lost four games, tonight  being the fourth time we've been beaten.

"We've won some games away from home. We might not have won at the Aviva here but we've won matches away from home and that's hard work.

"We scored in the first minute against Serbia. Real Madrid and Barcelona can concede in the first minute and come back or they can score in the first minute and come back and lose the game. This is international football, this is big,big football.. You've got to realise that.

"Remarkably we drew 2-2 with Serbia. Serbia won the group. We went to Wales and won. We took the lead against Wales and didn't concede after that! Your argument is back and forth.

"It's very important for you to know this. This is tough, this is really tough. We find it tough. We're playing against sides of superior quality usually. We've got a great spirit here, we were well beaten tonight, we could have been 2-0 up and it could have been a different story. Goals change games. That's the thing. We can fight back."

O'Neill was asked whether his luck had run out tonight during his post-game press conference, he responded: "I didn't win the trophies I won as a player and a manger without some luck. Everyone is entitled to some luck. I totally disagree with you on that.

"We were well beaten by a side that were technically better than us and have a world class player playing in their team.

I think it's been a commendable achievement from the team. I've won enough trophies as a manager. I was involved in a UEFA final, I must have had some luck to get there."

Online Editors

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