John O'Shea: Players wanted a replay after Thierry Henry handball, not a financial settlement
John O'Shea says that the Ireland players were only interested in a replay after the heartbreaking World Cup exit at the hands of Thierry Henry in 2009 - not a financial settlement.
The Waterford man was directly responding to comments from ex-French boss Raymond Domenech who said that the €5 million the FAI received from FIFA should have gone towards the players that missed out on a chance of playing in South Africa.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Aviva Stadium friendly with England, O’Shea was reluctant to discuss the rights and wrongs of the FAI hierarchy accepting money from the world football governing body in order to drop a legal case.
Keith Andrews, who lined out alongside O’Shea on that fraught evening, said last night that the Irish football authorities had lost their dignity by taking the ‘loan’ from FIFA.
The Sunderland defender was unwilling to go down that road, but he did stress that Domenech’s contribution to the furore was ‘ridiculous.’
“Look, it’s fairly easy for him to say that now,” said the 34-year-old, “For the French manager from that time to come out and say that now - it’s easy from his point of view to say that, it’s ridiculous.
“If you’re talking about what the players would have been looking for from that point of view: ultimately it was done and dusted, the game was over but if there was going to be anything it would have been a replay. It wouldn’t have been a case of monetary benefits from that point of view.”
Pressed on whether John Delaney was right to thrash out a settlement with Sepp Blatter, O’Shea: “Lads, I’m not getting into all of this. I’m fully focused on the two games coming up. We spoke about it earlier on, it’s one of those things, it’s done with.
“The FAI have made things very clear in their statements and what have you. I’ve just answered the question about the old France manager and I’m fully focused on the two games coming up.”
Martin O’Neill was equally reluctant to get drawn into the discussion, with the Derryman asked directly if FAI chief Delaney had his full support.
“John Delaney brought me into the FAI,” said O’Neill following a pause. “He brought me in, wanted me to manage the side and I was delighted to do so and have the opportunity and I would like to see that through. That’s what I’m looking at. That’s what I wanted to do. I haven’t had any discussions on the political side with John or the FAI board at any given stage.”
When it was put to him that the transaction with FIFA might have damaged the reputation of the FAI, O’Neill replied: “Do you know what? I’m not so sure really that it’s in my domain at this minute. I’m the manager of the team. The games with England and Scotland have my undivided attention.”
Both O’Neill and O’Shea stressed that the Irish group has their sights trained on the England friendly and the crunch Euro 2016 showdown with the Scots next Saturday.
The experienced defender asserted that the result against the English will be irrelevant if it doesn’t go to plan when Gordon Strachan’s charges arrive in town.
“To represent Ireland against England, it’s a very important game,” said O’Shea, “But if things didn’t go well for us against England and we beat Scotland...that’s what we’re looking to do.
“It’s great if we beat England and we beat Scotland but let’s not take our eyes off the prize. It’s France next summer and qualification. England is a fantastic game to look forward to but we need to get the result against Scotland.”
Wes Hoolahan missed training in Malahide this morning due to a family bereavement while Stephen Ward suffered a knock to his ankle in Thursday’s training match with Northern Ireland so he has emerged as a doubt for tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off. Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy is understood to be a strong contender to start from the outset.