Parkhead return would be ‘terrific’

Martin O’Neill is relishing the prospect of a return to Celtic Park in November.

Hampden Park, which will be used in this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, will still be unavailable for football in November, meaning that Scotland’s Euro qualifier against Ireland on Friday 14 will be played at either Parkhead or Ibrox.

And, given its larger capacity, all the signs are that the Scottish FA will opt to host the match at the home of the club which O’Neill led to the 2003 Uefa Cup final.

“That would be great, if that’s the case,” he enthused. “Back to Celtic Park? Yeah, absolutely. I’ve only been back a couple of times and that was for charity games, one with Stilian Petrov. That’s it.

” It’s like anything else — the torch has been passed on. But going back to Celtic — that would be terrific.”

O’Neill was less impressed with the fixture schedule for Group D which sees Ireland on the road in three of their first four games, the exception being Gibraltar in Dublin on Saturday, October 11, a month after his team opens their account in Tiblisi.

“Georgia, Germany and Scotland all away, that’s three out of our first four games away from home against seriously tough opposition,” said O’Neill. “But the draws been made and nobody can alter things. It’s a tough start for us but one that we’re still looking forward to.”

Ireland face a tough ending two, their final brace of games at home to Germany and away to Poland in 2015.

Designed, said Michel Platini in Nice on Saturday, to raise the profile of the international game in the face of increased competition from the Champions’ League and domestic football in countries like England, Germany, Spain and France, Uefa’s new centralised ‘Week of Football’ concept – which will see Euro qualifiers played and broadcast live from Thursday through to Tuesday – means Ireland’s opening game against Georgia on Sunday, September 7 will kick off just minutes after the final whistle in this year’s All-Ireland SHC final.

And, on what will be another busy day for Irish sport, Ireland’s final group game, away to Poland on Sunday October 11, 2015, is set take place on the day that, in the Rugby World Cup, Ireland play their final group game against France in Cardiff.


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