ON A NIGHT when there wasn’t much to write home about for Ireland fans, a post-match interview will provide one of the main talking points.
Noel King — finishing up as caretaker manager after two games, presuming the FAI find a permanaent coach — conducted a tense Q&A with RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue which drew ire from the studio panel of John Giles, Richard Sadlier and particularly Eamon Dunphy.
King seemed to become defensive — off the pitch — when O’Donoghue suggested some players were played out of position in the 3-1 win over Kazakhstan.
“Kevin Doyle was not played out of position,” he said. “If anyone wants to do their homework, he’s played their loads of times for his club, Anthony Stokes plays there for Celtic so I don’t know what you mean. He’s not played out of position.
“Kevin Doyle’s played on the right hand side umpteen times. Anthony Stokes played on the right hand side umpteen times. So this conversation is incorrect.
“This is typical,” he continued, “don’t degrade the players. Don’t degrade what they’ve done; they’ve done a marvellous, marvellous thing tonight against a very tricky team and I think that’s a positive. That’s what I’ll bring home. I can walk around Dublin with my head held high. I’m happy to be the Irish manager for a spell and that’s it.
“The boys were delighted, go and look at the chances that were created. You talk about possession in relation to getting three goals in a game; what’s wrong with that? You want us to get six goals? Once you play well and create chances and do things well and do thinks correctly in transition and defence, that’s all you can ask for, that’s all you can do.
“Each game is different and each game has to be judged on its own merits. so, give the boys a bit of credit.”
King then started to walk out of camera before O’Donoghue asked him about the prospect of managing the senior side again.
“I work for the FAI, I work for the FAI for umpteen years,” he said, “I enjoy my job with the U21s, I’m delighted to have that opportunity; if the FAI want me to do something they’ll talk to me. If they don’t want me to do something that’s fine. I work for the FAI, great I’m going to enjoy tonight, thanks very much.”
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Initially, King insisted he was delighted with the effort from the team, particularity after going a goal down.
“The players for me were terrific, they took the game by the scruff of the neck, they started well, they continued to go, they passed- tried to pass– obviously there was elements were they didn’t get it correct but you can work on that if you’re going to develop that method.
“You have to allow mistakes to happen and you have to assist. And I thought the players stuck to their task, particularly defensively. And when we got the ball I thought we used it quite well. But I’m delighted, they gave everything they had, they’re a credit to themselves, a credit to the green shirt. Over two games , as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good job by them. And I’m happy myself.
“I was very happy with their response. They didn’t panic, they didn’t panic, they really got back at them, which was encouraging. No matter what was going to happen — even if we didn’t score — we were doing the right things at the right times. That’s very satisfying and it’s also very rewarding for the players.”