Republic captain Seamus Coleman suffers broken leg in qualifier against Wales
Martin O'Neill has confirmed that Republic of Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman suffered a broken leg in a horror challenge by Wales defender Neil Taylor.
The Everton full-back was carried from the field on a stretcher after Taylor had been shown a straight red card for his 69th-minute tackle during Friday night's 0-0 World Cup qualifier draw in Dublin.
Republic boss O'Neill said: "Seamus has gone to hospital. It's been confirmed by our doctor that he has broken his leg. It's a real blow to him.
"He's having the season of a lifetime at club level and he's a big player for us, a great captain and a a great character, so it's a big, big loss, a big loss to Everton, a big loss to us.
"But he'll fight back, I hope. That puts things in perspective, I suppose."
Wales boss Chris Coleman was quick to defend Taylor and revealed he had gone to the Ireland dressing room after the final whistle to apologise to Coleman.
He said: "Sadly for Seamus, obviously, it looks like it's a bad one. Neil Taylor is not that type of player. He's had a serious injury himself. He's a great boy, he's a cracking lad.
"I've not seen the challenge, but I've seen the outcome, if you like, and it's a bad one for Seamus, and that's a shame because he's someone I respect. He's one of the best full-backs in the Premier League, so I hope he's not out for too long.
"Of course, Neil Taylor is devastated himself. It's not going to make Seamus feel any better, but Neil is not that type of player and he's pretty devastated about it.
"I'm not sure if Seamus was there, but Neil went at the end of the game across to where the Republic's home changing room is. I think he was looking for Seamus and I'm not sure he got hold of him, but he went over."
It might have been even worse for Wales seconds before Coleman's misfortune when star man Gareth Bale was booked for a late challenge on John O'Shea - the caution ruling him out of June's trip to Serbia - when he too could have seen red.
However, his manager said: "He (Bale) got the yellow card from a cross, the referee thought he was late. Again when I'm looking at it, I thought he had to go for it.
"He's travelling at a great speed, he's got to go for it, he gets a yellow card and he's going to miss the next game.
"Is it because it's Gareth Bale? Is it a bit more because it's Gareth Bale? Was it a genuinely bad challenge? If I see it again, I'll apologise to you and say he got it wrong.
"There's no hint of that in my dressing room. There's not Balo saying, 'I got it wrong'. He wants to appeal the yellow card."
Wales might have snatched victory at the death when Bale skimmed the post with a curling effort, but Coleman left Dublin relatively satisfied.
He said: "If you looked at it at the start of the campaign and said to us, "Would you take a point in the Republic and a point in Austria?', I'm not so sure I would have said, 'I don't want that'.
"It's not so bad, but because we have had draws - we dropped two points to Georgia at home - that's been quite significant.
"But still, there's a long way to go, five games, 15 points, so we'll be leaving here thinking last 20 minutes, it could have been worse for us when for 70 minutes really, we weren't really in any trouble. But it was a good point for us in the end."
O'Neill too was happy enough with a point.
He said: "It's five games gone, we're exactly halfway. Two games at home, three away. We've 11 points on the board. I would have taken that.
"Serbia won tonight, Austria won - they're not out of it. Wales didn't gain any ground on us tonight, but we still have to go there and they are capable of winning matches. Teams will definitely take points off each other."