Kelly and Walters hail brave new era

Stephen Kelly has praised the way Martin O’Neill has had the Irish team “going for the throat” from the start or games as he and Jon Walters enthused about the “different vibe” surrounding the side.

“It’s been excellent, it’s been great,” Kelly said. “I think everybody is saying the same thing. He (O’Neill) has been enthusiastic and the atmosphere is fantastic. The information coming back from the manager has been excellent and I suppose that has shown in the games. We’ve come out and gone for the throat. In the first half I thought we really put it up to them (Poland) for spells. There is a different vibe, I suppose the issues are fresh and that’s what happens whenever a new manager comes in, you get that boost and hopefully that can continue into the qualifiers.”

Kelly did get to rectify one personal issue in the 0-0 draw against Poland in Poznan, as he finally got to compete in one of the stadiums where he sat as a non-playing reserve through all of Euro 2012.

“I ticked the box, I got to play in the stadium. It was nice for me to get rid of what happened before. It was a good performance. I thought we played well in spells. It was a tough game in difficult conditions against tough opposition so to come away with a clean sheet was a good result.”

By contrast, Walters spoke about one of the finest moments of his career, as he captained Ireland for the first time in Tuesday’s draw.

“My mum is watching over me from above, it’s the proudest moment of my career and hopefully I can keep moving forward.

“He (O’Neill) just told me I was captain when we came in to the changing room. It was a surprise.

“I was captain at Ipswich under Roy (Keane) for a few years. I know what’s expected for me, it’s nothing I haven’t done before.”

Walters also joked about whether his previous relationship with Keane had played a part, and said they settled any apparent differences amicably.

“We had a laugh, it was a fine. I said a while back that if I was chairman, I’d give him a go as a manager because I was impressed with him at Ipswich. I really enjoyed how we was with people as well.

“It’s what you respect, I was captain there and enjoyed it but then I wanted to go to the Premier League and he wanted me to stay so it wasn’t going to be all cuddles or anything.

“It was bound to happen. We just had a laugh about it. It’s been good. The lads came in so enthusiastic. Everyone is buzzing, everyone is looking forward to it. I just wish the qualifying games were sooner rather than later.”


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