By Ger McCarthy
Martin O’Neill cut a defiant figure despite the Republic of Ireland’s failure to obtain a high-scoring draw or victory in Warsaw that would have seen his side qualify automatically for Euro 2016.
Ireland’s 2-1 defeat coupled with Germany’s victory over Georgia means a two-legged play-off must be negotiated if Ireland are to make it France next Summer.
“It is true that I would have taken a play-off before the qualification process began,” commented O’Neill.
“There still was a chance for us to get there tonight without a play-off but it was a tough game and tough to ask for the same intensity that we had the previous night against Germany. It was a short turnaround and Poland had a world class player in their starting line-up.
“We had a chance, Richard’s chance to score a goal and after that we could have been the ones who were doing the celebrating.
“It was a stop-start game and funnily enough I thought it would be that type of game. Poland got a great start but we equalised immediately after. I was surprised that the guy who hit Shane Long in the face wasn’t actually booked but as time was wearing on Poland were stopping the game to make sure they got their result.”
Man of the match Seamus Coleman added; “There was a period during the summer when we drew against Scotland that if someone offered us a play-off we definitely would have taken it.
“After the performance the lads put in the other night, we are disappointed in the dressing room now because we came here (Poland) with high confidence. We feel it is important that the support the country gave us earlier on, if they can give us that same support one more time in November, then fingers crossed we can go there (France).”
Richard Keogh didn’t mask his disappointment when asked about his failure to direct a late header into the net that would have made the score 2-2.
“Aidan McGeady did well and it just came across to me so I tried to head it down towards the goal,” the Derby County defender commented.
“Obviously their goalkeeper has made a decent save but it was a great chance to score and I should have placed it in the other corner. Yeah, I should have scored.
“Losing two individuals like John O’Shea and Jon Walters to suspension is disappointing as they are fantastic players. We have showed before that whoever steps up and comes into the team can do a job though. We will dust ourselves down, go away and prepare for the play-offs now in November.”