By Liam Mackey
John O’Shea has said that the Irish players were never interested in monetary compensation for their failure to reach the 2010 World Cup following the Thierry Henry handball incident in the play-off game in Paris in 2009.
Against the backdrop of the revelation that FIFA made a €5m payment to the FAI, O’Shea – who played in that Stade de France game – responded today to former French manager Raymond Domenech’s suggestion that the Irish players involved should demand some of the money from the controversial deal.
“It’s fairly easy for him to say that now in that sense, it’s ridiculous,” said O’Shea. “If you’re talking about what the players would have been looking for from that point of view - ultimately the game was done and dusted - but if there was going to be anything from it, it would have been a replay. It wouldn’t have been a case of monetary benefits.
“The FAI have obviously made everything as public as possible and dealt with it as quickly as possible, and we move on and concentrate, as the players do, on the games coming up now because they’re very important for ourselves, the country and the fans.”
Asked if FAI boss John Delaney has his full support, Ireland manager Martin O’Neill replied: “John Delaney brought me into the FAI, he brought me in, wanted me to manage the side and I was delighted to do so, delighted to have the opportunity, and I’d like to see that through.
"That’s what I’m looking at and that’s what I want to do. I haven’t had any discussions on the political side with John or the FAI board at any given stage.”
Saying he hasn’t had the time to study the payment issue in depth, O’Neill went on: “It’s come up at a stage where you really want to concentrate on what we’re here about, myself as the manager and John as a player, and I think that is pretty important. What I could say is that the FAI board have given me this opportunity to come and manage the team.
"I was delighted to take it and obviously want to push that forward on the footballing side as much as I possibly can. And, naturally this game and the Scotland game are taking my almost undivided attention.”
O’Neill and O’Shea were speaking ahead of tomorrow’s high-profile friendly against England at the Aviva Stadium, the first meeting between the two sides since the Lansdowne riot forced the abandonment of their game 20 years ago.
O’Neill said: “I’m hoping the crowd will be behaved, hoping there’s something on the pitch for them to cheer about and hoping time has moved on from 20 years ago. I don’t think anyone would like to see scenes there all those years ago.”
It is expected that Jack Charlton, manager of the Irish team on that night, will attend tomorrow's game against England at the Aviva.
O’Shea, who is expected to skipper the side in the absence of Robbie Keane, was at pains to stress that the England game is, from a football point of view, merely a stepping stone towards next Sunday’s crunch Euro qualifier against Scotland.
“If things didn’t go well against England and we beat Scotland, that’s what we’re looking to do,” he said.
“Great if we beat England and Scotland. But let’s not take our eyes off the prize, as they say. That’s qualification for France. England is a fantastic game to look forward to but we need to get the result against Scotland.”