Wednesday 17 January 2018

O'Shea wary of looming Armenian threat

David Kelly

David Kelly

John O'Shea bounds for the bus. Seemingly as eager as the rest of us to banish the previous hours into a far, distant place in the memory bank.

Three points. Move on. Tuesday will define this group; not this evening of torpor.

"We found out the Russian result as well and we just wanted to get the three points and get out of town," he says. "We've played on some bad pitches as kids but you think when you get to international level that it might be better.

"You have to get on with it. Be professional. It would have been nice to score a few more goals, it would have been a lot nicer. All roads lead to Tuesday night against a team who are scoring lots of goals at the moment. It will be a good test for us."

Ireland declared at 2-0 after 20 minutes and submitted to a tame stalemate thereafter.

"The manager wasn't happy at half-time, he didn't want us to underestimate them," reports O'Shea. "We did put them under a lot of pressure in the first 20 minutes but we fell away a bit after that and the manager wasn't happy with that. The second-half was disappointing, not scoring. We defended comfortably enough and Shay Given handled anything he had to deal with."

The dangerous Armenians lurk with more menacing intent.

"You go into a game against Armenia thinking about a draw... they've scored a lot of goals so we're going to have to be on our guard at the back. Having Richard Dunne back will be a bonus.

"But obviously we lose Stephen Ward, which is disappointing. I think he was fouled, at least he says so. He didn't dive over like a swan. But we have the players. You see Aiden McGeady has become a world-class player. We need to give him the ball because he's destroying teams for us at the moment.

"We would have taken this position at the start of the group but then you see the games against Slovakia when we could have really nicked a win in both of those, especially away from home when we deserved it a lot more."

Kevin Doyle agreed. "We always had that hope that maybe we could go on and win the group. We have been in the play-offs before and we know what it's like.

"Armenia will be full of confidence. We knew when we won 1-0 that it was a very difficult game and since then they have picked up some big results. They won't be fearing us."

"We won't be going for a draw," added Shane Long. "We know exactly how good Armenia are. They were a great side in the first game and we knew a 1-0 win away from home was going to be a big result. Hopefully we can back that up with a home win to get us to the play-offs."

Irish Independent

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