O’Neill in no rush to decide Ireland future

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill during the World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Martin O’Neill will speak to FAI CEO John Delaney in the coming weeks regarding his future as Republic of Ireland manager.

O’Neil refused to be drawn on the subject when quizzed by the media following Ireland’s 5-1 World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. It’s understood that a two-year deal was on the table for O’Neill.

“I haven’t spoken to John since we spoke about it,” said O’Neill. “I thought there was an agreement. I’ll speak to John in the next couple of weeks.”

In early October, the FAI announced that O’Neill had agreed a two-year extension that would see him lead Ireland for the EURO 2020 qualifying campaign. It’s understood assistant manager Roy Keane was also offered a two-year extension.

O’Neill, though, refused to confirm that he had signed the deal post the Denmark defeat, despite the FAI’s announcement on 5 October.

“I’ll have to have a real think about it,” said O’Neill, who led Ireland to the last 16 at EURO 2016, but missed out on taking them to their first World Cup since 2002 with that comprehensive defeat to Denmark.

14 November 2017; Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland scores his side’s first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 2nd leg match between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

After drawing 0-0 in Copenhagen, Ireland couldn’t have asked for a better start than the one given to them by Shane Duffy’s sixth minute header, after the Danes had failed to clear a free kick.

Ireland had chances to increase their lead, but Daryl Murphy could only find the side-netting and James McClean fired wide.

The visitors hit back to score twice in the space of three devastating first half minutes. First through a Cyrus Christie own goal and then through a stunning strike from Spurs man Christian Eriksen, to leave the home side needing to score twice to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.

That became three times when Eriksen curled in his second from the edge of the box, and he then completed his hat-trick to settle the tie. Former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner rounded off the rout with a late penalty.

“We were beaten in a play-off game here. We fought tooth and nail to try and get into this position,” said O’Neill.

“This wasn’t the first game of a new campaign, this was a play-off match to take us to the World Cup.

14 November 2017; James McClean of Republic of Ireland following the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 2nd leg match between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

“The disappointment is obviously very, very strong tonight because we haven’t been able to do it. But I have to commend the players on getting this far.”

Before beginning their 2020 EURO qualifying campaign, Ireland will first take part in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2018. O’Neill’s thoughts, though, were not on that.

“I can’t think of that tonight,” he said.

“It is a major disappointment us not getting [to the World Cup] and because of that, my first thought tomorrow morning would not be about getting ourselves prepared for that competition. No, tonight, still disappointing.”

O’Neill also dismissed suggestions that he was a ‘lucky’ manager and that his luck had finally run out against the Danes. He said that every manager needs an element of luck.

Totally disagree

“That’s simply not true; I don’t win those trophies that I have won both as a player and as a manager and have some luck. Everybody is entitled to a little bit of luck, so I totally disagree with you,” he said.

“But we were well beaten tonight by a side that was technically better than us and have a world class player playing in their team. But I don’t agree with you about luck running out.

“It has been a commendable effort by the team and I have won enough trophies as a manager and I was involved in a UEFA final so I must have got some luck to get there.”

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