Shane Long: We need to make the Aviva Stadium a fortress

Shane Long: We need to make the Aviva Stadium a fortress

The Republic of Ireland’s goalscorer last night said the team were delighted to clinch a draw against Poland after coming from a losing position, but need to do better in future game to ensure maximum points from home games.

Shane Long rescued a point with his injury-time equaliser to keep Ireland fourth in Euro 2016 qualifying Group D, but only 3 points adrift of Poland at the top of the table.

The striker insisted Ireland deserved at least the draw from the game.

“I thought in the second half we caused them all sorts of problems,” he said after the game. “Maybe the first 35 minutes they were on top, but after that we got really into it. You could tell there was a goal coming and thankfully I was the man to get on the end of the ball.”

Shane Long's 91st minute goal.

His late strike was the difference between Ireland being three or six points off the pace going into the next round of games in June.

Long said: “I was delighted to get the goal because I thought we deserved it. And losing to Poland today would have been a big dent in our campaign.”

With Scotland visiting the Aviva for the next qualifying match, Ireland will have to ensure they do not leave themselves in the position of chasing a home game again.

“I think we need to make the Aviva (Stadium) a bit of a fortress for ourselves, we can’t be giving teams a 1-0 lead,” Long said. “Even though we robbed a draw today, I thought at the end of the game we maybe deserved to come away with the three points.

“We caused them all sorts of problems in the second half and were unlucky for the ball not to fall for us. But we’ll take the draw, we won’t be too greedy.”

Listen to Shane Long’s full post-match interview.

Long said manager Martin O’Neill had reacted quickly to change Ireland’s set-up after they fell behind to a first half goal.

“He obviously got us going at half-time, but I think 10 minutes before half-time he changed the shape a little bit and we got into the game then,” he said. “He brought Wes (Hoolahan) out to the left side and he was getting on the ball and slotting it through and Jonny (Walter’s) physical presence up front was helping out Robbie (Keane).

“I think that really got us back into the game, and got us on the front foot.”

Long felt there was plenty of positives to take from Ireland’s fight-back and remained bullish on our qualification chances.

“In the second half I thought we were the only team that were going to score,” he insisted.

“It’s definitely within our own grasp. Getting that draw today was obviously a big result for us. Losing three points to them, I think they would have gone six points ahead of us, it’s a big gap to claw back.

“But they’re still in touching distance and it’s still in our own hands, we don’t have to rely on other results.”

He finished: “We’re confident that we’ve got a good enough squad here to get to the finals and it’s just a case of getting there and proving that.”

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