Dara O'Shea: No room for error against Kylian Mbappé and France

O’Shea described this qualifier as a game to relish.
Dara O'Shea: No room for error against Kylian Mbappé and France

ONTO THE NEXT: Ireland's Nathan Collins, Mikey Johnston, Dara O'Shea and Alan Browne applaud the fans. Pic: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ireland’s Dara O’Shea has warned that one slip is all it will take for Kylian Mbappé to ruin Ireland’s opening night when they get their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign underway on Monday night in Dublin.

The 24-year pitches up at Lansdowne Road in three days’ time with a French team that reached the World Cup final at the end of 2022. He is simply the brightest of stars on a team replete with them.

In that, there are distinct similarities with the meeting of these countries at the old Lansdowne Road back in September of 2005 when Thierry Henry was the biggest name and danger and duly scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.

Henry was marshalled superbly that night by Richard Dunne in one of the latter’s best performances in a green shirt. Henry pulled the winner, a glorious curler into the top corner, out of thin air after 67 minutes of, well, nothing.

“At the end of the day, these are the best players in the world,” said O’Shea. “It's going to be a tough task but if we do what we do and stay concentrated that's the main thing: staying switched on. We can't really let up.

“There's no room for error in these situations so we have to give it our best. We're all good players at the end of the day. We're playing at a high level and if we all pull together in the same direction that's going to be massive as a team.

“It's not going to take one individual to stop someone, it's a team.” It’s a timely warning given the manner in which Ireland let a very poor Latvia team back into last Wednesday’s friendly when, having led 2-0 after 17 minutes, they found themselves level going into the dressing-rooms at half-time.

France should certainly concentrate the minds.

O’Shea described this qualifier as a game to relish, a chance for the players to test themselves against a calibre of team that many among this young Irish squad assembled by Stephen Kenny might not have faced before.

Among the key unknowns ahead of the game on Monday is the role, if any, Seamus Coleman will play.

The squad’s skipper, Coleman has missed far more Ireland games than he has played since Stephen Kenny took over as manager with injury and the emergence of Matt Doherty conspiring to squeeze the veteran’s opportunities.

Doherty captained the team from wing-back against Latvia in Wednesday’s friendly but has next to no football under his belt since joining Atletico Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur during the January transfer window.

Coleman has been in flying form for Everton despite their league struggles.

Does Coleman come back in for Doherty in a 3-5-2? Does he play on the right-hand side of the back three? Will the thigh strain he brought with him from Everton rule him out and limit his contribution to a supporting role?

“Seamus has been amazing for this country,” said O’Shea. “He is a great human at the end of the day and as a footballer he has been unbelievable. He really is the leader in the group and instils that.

“He's been great for the young lads coming through. You always need someone who is going to be there and welcome you with open arms and he's been that person from the very start.

“It's a young team. The average age was quite young the other day and players like him coming back into the fold are great for us. You need players who have the experience of playing in them games. He's an unbelievable player as well and so it's a great positive for us.”

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