Defiant O’Neill determined to lead Ireland to Euros

Defiant O’Neill determined to lead Ireland to Euros

By Liam Mackey

Martin O’Neill reaffirmed his determination to continue in the Irish job after tonight’s Nations League defeat to Wales.

“Absolutely,” he replied, when asked if he wanted to carry on. “Maybe next month we might have a couple of major players back but for some of the younger lads this was a learning curve there tonight and hopefully it will stand them in good stead.”

O’Neill also said that he “genuinely” believes that his team can qualify for the Euro finals in 2020.

On the 0-1 loss to Wales, he said: “I’m naturally disappointed to lose. I thought it was a big effort, certainly not short of endeavour. We opened brightly and should have been a goal in front. Cyrus (Christie), who played very well for us again, should have scored. And I thought we were very strong in the last 25 minutes when we were a goal behind.

“Overall there were positive things to take out of the game. As I said, I’m delighted with the endeavour that we showed and, although endeavour alone is not enough, I thought we gave everything tonight.

I didn’t think we stood back, like on Saturday when Denmark had too much possession. I didn’t think that was the case tonight. I thought we got on the front foot with attacking players on the field. But our major problem obviously is to score a goal and we have to carve out more chances in games.

Asked if his team’s victory had finally answered the critics who say that Wales can’t cope without star players like Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, manager Ryan Giggs said: “It’s not easy when you’re missing quality players like that but it was a chance for the players to come in and prove that’s not the case. And they did that tonight but the thing I’m most proud of is that clean sheet. They put their bodies on the line to defend. They dug in, in what is a tough place to come.”

And while the manager once again praised his younger players, he selected the veteran Ashley Williams as his man of the match.

“His performance was magnificent,” he said, “particularly in the first half when we had to dig in.”

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