Saturday 21 September 2019

'We were strong defensively and had good shape about us' - Martin O'Neill looks for positives after tough night

19 November 2018; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Nations League B match between Denmark and Republic of Ireland at Ceres Park in Aarhus, Denmark. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
19 November 2018; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Nations League B match between Denmark and Republic of Ireland at Ceres Park in Aarhus, Denmark. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman tried to find positives in another disappointing performance from Martin O'Neill's team, as a truly disastrous 2018 ended with a fourth successive scoreless display in a 0-0 draw against Denmark.

Ireland have now gone four games without scoring a goal and have managed a pathetic four shots on target in those matches, yet Coleman insisted their lamentable UEFA Nations League campaign ended with some dignity restored in Aarhus.

"It is a clean sheet away from home and we needed some kind of result," Coleman told Sky Sports. "We need work in the final third but we battled well tonight, it is a good result.

"We tried to get into them in the right areas and win the ball back. A bit of improvement in the final third and we will be heading in the right direction.

"It was a difficult game. Jeff Hendrick tried to make things happen. With the lads coming in, they have a point to prove and it is good to give them experience.

"We could only take tonight but the year has not been great. We would have liked to win the game but it was not meant to be.

"When we put on the jersey on, we play with pride and have had some massive results in the past."

O'Neill was even more upbeat after his side's latest defensive display, as he referred yet again to the success he has enjoyed in his playing and coaching career and suggested he has used the UEFA Nations League campaign to bed in young players on a night when he handed a debut to Southampton youngster Michael Obafemi.

"We were very strong defensively and we had good shape about us," stated O'Neill. " In terms of strength and the commitment, it was excellent against a very strong Denmark side.

"Lack of goalscoring chances?

"In the competitive games this season, that was our eighth debutant. Players are getting used to playing with each other, the players will be ready for the big games.

"We have done it in the past, got to the Euros, and we were very strong there. We got to the World Cup play-offs and have been strong in the games that matter.

"The young players are bedding in, Michael Obafemi made his debut, this is international football and a massive step-up for them. They are trying to adjust.

"It has been a tough year, we have not chosen easy games, we have tried to play the hard games and we will learn far more doing that. We have picked up some points and made good progress.

"In my playing career and as a manager, I don't think I could have won the things I have done without the drive and enthusiasm."

Online Editors

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