O’Neill defends decision not to start Keane in 'frenetic' game

O’Neill defends decision not to start Keane in 'frenetic' game

By Grainne McGuinness and Shaun Cronin

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill stood over his decision to leave Robbie Keane out of the starting side for last night’s match against Scotland.

Speaking after the 1-nil defeat O’Neill said it was the correct decision in terms of the game plan for the night.

“I make decisions for the good of the team,” he said. “Robbie accepted that.

“We were playing away from home and we wanted to try and stretch them. Shane Long can do that.”

However he admitted that the plan didn’t quite work in what was a chaotic match in Celtic Park.

O'Neill said: “It was a frenetic game. I don’t think either of the two teams were able to get it down and play it.

Certainly after the first 10-15 minutes the game kept developing in that style.”

The game was a frantic and sometimes tetchy affair, with three yellow cards shown in the first half-hour alone. O’Neill said that was to be expected.

“It was a tough contest,” he said. “I think we all said this before, we’ve been talking about it for the last couple of weeks.”

“We said this was going to be a derby game, with a derby feel, a derby atmosphere. It had all of those ingredients.”

Notwithstanding that Scotland won the game, O'Neill felt both sides had been equally affected by the atmosphere.

“Neither of the two teams were able to get the ball down and keep possession in the game,” he said. “Whether that was because of the atmosphere or maybe a little bit of nervousness.”

“That applied to both teams.”

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