And then, finally, talk of a football match broke out — although not before John O’Shea too was canvassed for his opinion on the man of the hour and replied he was only too happy to echo Martin O’Neill’s sentiments about how "brilliant" it was for the players to have Roy Keane as part of the Irish management team.
Then, reflecting on the fall from the high of his equalising goal in Gelsenkirchen last month to the low of defeat in Glasgow on Friday, O’Shea bemoaned the lapse of concentration which he felt cost Ireland a point in Celtic Park.
Said the Sunderland man: “I felt it looked like it was heading for 0-0 and the most disappointing thing is that the manager and the staff had explained to us how important the set-pieces were going to be in games that are so tight. And that was the disappointing thing on the night, to concede the goal we did. Scotland said they worked on it but they had a bit of luck in the transition of the set piece and we didn’t react quick enough to stop it.
“It’s certainly something we need to improve on. We have to improve attacking-wise. And set pieces as well, as they are so crucial. Hopefully we will have 2015 to put that right.”
In fact, the work resumes tonight at the Aviva Stadium, with Martin O’Neill confirming he will start newcomers David McGoldrick and Cyrus Christie against the USA in a side which will be radically different to the team he sent out in Glasgow.
“It would have been nice to have got something out of our last competitive game before Christmas,” the manager said of the Celtic Park affair.
“I would have been delighted to have eight points but we’re a point short and we’ll have to rectify that. The next game against Poland is not until March and we don’t play Scotland again until June, which seems a lifetime away. I’d love to be playing Scotland again next week but we can’t undo those things. But we can play better, and I think we can do and will do. A very important issue is that you never know who’ll be fit at that time. We might have everyone available, we might not. I remember saying way back at the beginning that the team that started the opening game might not be the team that takes us to France — if we can get to France. But Christie and McGoldrick might make a difference and might give us a lift.”
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