Another stalemate and plenty of difficult questions for Seamus Coleman and Martin O’Neill to field following a scoreless draw with Denmark in Aarhus tonight.
“I thought that overall, in terms of creativity we are not there but certainly in terms of strength that the commitment was absolutely excellent there tonight against a very strong Denmark side,” O’Neill commented.
“In terms of a lack of goalscoring chances, I think that was our eighth debutante out there tonight.
“We have done it in the past. People talk about momentum; we went into the Euros and were very strong in them. We also got to World Cup play-offs, so we have been very strong when it comes to the big games and the games that matter. International football is a massive step up for some of our players. They are trying to adjust.”
When it was put to O’Neill that 2018 was one of his hardest ever years as a manager, the former Norther Ireland stalwart gave a typically terse reply.
“It has certainly been tough,” O’Neill stated.
“We have not chosen easy friendly games and I don’t think away to France or Turkey are easy. I think we will learn far more by playing tough opposition and certainly had that over the course of the year. We are making progress and the young players are coming through."
Irish captain Seamus Coleman spoke shortly after the final whistle, saying: “You know it’s a clean sheet away from home and we needed a result to come back with.
“The final third is where we still need a bit of work but I thought we batted well tonight and kept a clean sheet. I thought we were a bit more about it tonight tried to get at them in the right areas and get the ball back from them.
"We did that at times and a little bit of improvement in the final third means we are going in the right direction.”
When asked about players being braver on the ball and getting better angles for teammates, Coleman admitted Ireland still has a way to go but at least showed more intent against a difficult Danish team to break down.
“It was a difficult game you know and it was difficult to come away from home even though we tried to play a bit at times,” the Irish captain stated.
“I thought Jeff (Hendrick) got on the ball and tried to make things happen. I’ve definitely seen some improvement. The lads coming in had a point to prove and are new to the international scene. They are still getting used to it and it is great to get them that experience before the qualifiers start in March.
“We could only take tonight on tonight and the year has not been great. I also want to take the opportunity to express our sadness and the fact our thoughts go out to the Irish lad who lost his life in Denmark. We are thinking of him and his family at this time.”