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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 20 January, 2020

It's time to man up and take responsibility, says Ireland captain Seamus Coleman

‘We weren’t good enough tonight and there’s no other way of looking at it,’ said the frustrated full-back.

THERE WAS A recurring message from Seamus Coleman when the Republic of Ireland captain faced the media after last night’s game against Northern Ireland.

We’ve got to front up and we’ve got to man up and take responsibility.”

In the bowels of the Aviva Stadium, the Everton full-back cut a frustrated figure while picking over the bones of the wretched display that resulted in a goalless draw with Northern Ireland.

Seamus Coleman reacts Coleman showing his frustration during the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Coleman provided an honest assessment, pulling no punches as he reflected on a game which would have ended in victory for the North were it not for the performance of Darren Randolph, who denied the visitors with two particularly outstanding saves. 

“Every one of us on that pitch has got to take responsibility,” Coleman said. “We didn’t create enough chances tonight and, as I said, Darren [Randolph] was our man of the match.

“In training — you come out and watch us — we’re getting the ball down, so we have to take responsibility and transfer that on to the pitch on match day. That’s what big players do. That’s what good players do. At the minute, unfortunately, we’re not doing that.”

Ireland have now failed to score in each of their last three games. Martin O’Neill’s side managed just two attempts on target last night — each of them engineered by set-piece deliveries from Robbie Brady — but headers from Shane Duffy and Darragh Lenihan didn’t cause much bother for Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the Northern Ireland goal.

“That’s where we have to man up and take responsibility,” said Coleman. “We can’t be relying on Robbie’s set-pieces. We have to get on the ball. When Duffy’s got the ball, we have to make angles – myself included. All of us.

“We have to be brave and we have to take responsibility. We’re playing for our country and we grew up wanting to play for our country. I’m trying to say the right things, but it can only be done on the football pitch.”

He added: “You want to be on the front foot, you want more of the ball, but you have got to adapt to your surroundings. I’m not playing for Everton when I come out for Ireland, so I’m not going to start expecting that. We need to be better, tonight of all nights — we’re playing Northern Ireland at home.”

Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland - International Friendly - Aviva Stadium The Ireland team pictured before the game. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan

The full-time whistle was greeted by boos from a significant portion of the 31,241 attendance, as the frustration among Ireland supporters continues to grow. The Boys in Green’s only victory in their last 10 games came in last June’s friendly against USA. 

Coleman: “We’ve got the best fans in the world. When we’re doing well, they’re unbelievable. But as players in that dressing room, we have got to weather the storm together now. We’re going to get criticised — take it on the chin. We weren’t good enough tonight, so we have to take it on the chin.

“But we also have to man up and take responsibility as players, as professional footballers who are playing for our country. We have to take responsibility, myself included.”

If there was one positive point to extract from last night’s game, it was the keeping of a clean sheet — even if Ireland rode their luck on a couple of occasions before Darren Randolph came to the rescue.

“You have to look for some positives and that is a positive, although it’s not a good sign when your keeper is man of the match,” admitted Coleman, who resumed his role as captain when stand-in skipper Glenn Whelan was substituted to mark his international farewell.

“There are some positives to take, but we have to start creating chances, we have to start scoring goals, and we can try against Denmark. But we all have to take responsibility. We’re all disappointed. We weren’t good enough tonight and there’s no other way of looking at it.” 

Ireland will play their final game of 2018 on Monday night in Aarhus, where they’ll round off a disappointing inaugural Uefa Nations League campaign. Even an improbable victory against Denmark is unlikely to be enough to avoid finishing bottom of the group.

Seamus Coleman with Stuart Dallas Coleman is tackled by Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Talking before games, talking after games, it’s a load of nonsense, really,” Coleman said. “It’s on the pitch that it has to happen, and that starts against Denmark. We have to end this year on a high.

“We could come away after beating Denmark on a great note and that has to be our full focus now. We’ve had our backs to the wall before and we have come out. We’ve not been good enough this year and if we can get a win against Denmark, it would take us into the qualifiers [for Euro 2020] on a great note.

“It’s a tough trip. All international games now are tough. As I said, we’ve got to front up and be men about the situation. Be brave. And bravery is not always about tackling. It’s sometimes about getting on the ball.

“We’ve got to come out here and say the right things, we’ve got to come out here and do the interviews, but the only place it can be done is on the football pitch.” 

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Paul Dollery

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