By Ger McCarthy
Martin O’Neill was pleased with the Republic of Ireland’s performance but emphasised getting a win over Moldova was much more important ahead of Monday’s visit to Cardiff.
“We thought we did really fine and got an early goal that settled the players down before following it up with another great goal by Murph (Daryl Murphy) again,’ O’Neill said to RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue.
“It would have been nice to get another goal as we had a couple of great chances. Shane Long said to me on the way in that he can’t buy a goal, we had some great chances and it would have been nice to get a third. It would have given us an opportunity to see a few new players a wee bit earlier like young Maguire and Hogan.
“The win was the most important thing. It was great to win and sets up nicely for Monday night.”
The confidence that Daryl Murphy will bring to the Welsh game as well as a morale-boosting display should set up a great occasion in Cardiff, something the Irish manager is looking forward to.
“Absolutely, Murphy’s second goal was a particularly great header where he is stretching and puts it into the net,” commented O’Neill.
“As I mentioned earlier, those early goals, on a night like this when tension can be pretty high and you have to win a game, it was nice. We have won well and the most important thing is that we go to Monday night with everything to play for.
“I’ve always liked Callum O’Dowda ever since I watched him play in the U21’s. He has been around the scene now and the fact is when we were one each with Moldova (away) and had to find a goal, I had no hesitation in putting him on to the field of play.
"He’s gained from that confidence and my advice to him at club level is that when he gets the chance to drive at the opposition, drive at people and make things happen. He’s getting his reward now in that he playing for longer periods than the first team at club level.
“The lads are in good fettle and ready for the game on Monday night. We know what we have to do. We have to win a game in Cardiff and the chances are there for us. Serbia lost tonight and we know what we have to do. We went to Lille knowing we had to beat Italy to get through to the last sixteen of the World Cup. It is there for us, let’s go for it.”
A first competitive start for Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda saw the 22-year-old shine in midfield alongside Wes Hoolahan, Jeff Hendrick and David Meyler.
“We knew what we needed to do in this game but I think it all comes down to the game on Monday now,” commented O’Dowda to RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue shortly after the final whistle.
“We did exactly what we intended to do (against Moldova) and I’m happy that we have done it. I felt really good actually. Obviously, I played in a different role; central midfield with the option to go wide but what’s more important is that we got the 3 points. We now have the boost of James McClean and Robbie Brady coming back so that will be good as well.”