Rep of Ireland 1 Poland 1: O’Neill hails Long and McClean impact
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill praises second-half impact of Shane Long and James McClean
Martin O’Neill was left to rue the Republic of Ireland’s poor first-half performance against Poland at Aviva Stadium, but praised his team for salvaging a point with a late leveller from Shane Long on Sunday night.
Robbie Brady’s first-half error allowed Slamwoir Peszko in to score for the visitors and helped them shackle the Irish attack in a disappointing opening 45, while a second-half onslaught from Ireland would seem them reap the rewards for a never-say-die attitude.
Speaking to the media after the 1-1 draw, O’Neill felt his Irish side were unlucky not to sneak a win in Dublin.
“We started of tentatively in the game, we were a little bit nervous and just when we started to get into the game we conceded, from our view point, a very poor goal. That puts you on the back foot.
“The second-half performance was simply terrific, we dominated from the 45th minute to the 90th and we put Poland on the back foot, we created a number of chances, we certainly deserved a draw at least in the game and perhaps maybe could have easily won it.”
O’Neill put emphasis on the importance of Long’s second-half introduction, but also the influence of Derry born winger James McClean on the Euro 2016 qualifier.
“The introduction of James McClean, was I think probably pivotal at that stage and Shane [Long] coming on then and getting the equalising goal for us was just terrific,” added O’Neill.
“Getting James on to the field was still important for us. His time on the field was nothing short of excellent.”
O’Neill was quick to acknowledge the Irish fans and their efforts in keeping faith with this Irish team.
“I thought the atmosphere was really fantastic. Here tonight under pressure, under severe pressure, a goal behind, I thought the crowd were fantastic for us, really, really fantastic and played a big part in keeping spirits going.”
Ireland are in fourth place and three points behind Group D leaders Poland.