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'There is a job to do... Momentum will hopefully swing towards us a little bit now'

Kevin Kilbane and Brian Kerr give their thoughts on the decision to play Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off with Slovakia behind closed doors.

Kevin Kilbane was speaking on Virgin Media Sport.
Kevin Kilbane was speaking on Virgin Media Sport.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Updated Mar 10th 2020, 9:22 PM

NIALL QUINN SAYS the Irish football team can only “take orders and react” following the news that their Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia will be played behind closed doors.

The Slovak FA confirmed earlier today that, due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, the semi-final fixture set for 24 March will be held in an empty Tehelné Pole Stadium in Bratislava. 

Quinn, who is the deputy interim chief of the FAI, says the Republic of Ireland are placing their trust in government officials who have made this call.

“I think everyone in football listens to local government, national government and health executives and you’re literally following orders and that is what they are doing here,” he said on Virgin Media Sport.

“We are going to have to do it ourselves at this moment in time for the game in Slovakia. And things may change further. Who knows? All football can do is take orders and react.”

Meanwhile, former Ireland international Kevin Kilbane feels Mick McCarthy’s side will benefit from the crunch tie taking place behind closed doors.

While Kilbane, capped 110 times for his country, acknowledged the more serious wider health ramifications surrounding the continued spread of the coronavirus, he admitted that Ireland manager Mick McCarthy could use the circumstances to his advantage.

I think it can only help us,” said Kilbane, who was also speaking on Virgin Media Sport tonight. “When you go away from home into a hostile environment, it can be a bit of a negative – it can certainly spur the home team on.

“I think it will help us to play in that environment, and Mick McCarthy will be happier that will be the case.

“So he’ll try to play that down, I think, and quite rightly he’ll say it’s still a game of football, it’s still 11 v 11.

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“Ultimately, there is that job to do. We do have more of an advantage playing behind closed doors.

“But momentum will hopefully swing towards us a little bit now. The players can fully focus on the game now, that’s how it has to be. But we know there is a much more serious issue here.”

Kilbane’s fellow Virgin Media Sport analyst, Brian Kerr, agreed that Ireland have been handed an advantage, but he too stressed the importance of taking the spread of coronavirus seriously.

Kerr’s comments can be viewed below.

“From a football point of view, which is less relevant, I think it gives the Republic of Ireland a better chance,” Kerr added.

“If you are a player or a manager, you would want to go to an away match with any of the opposition’s fans in the ground, the hostility that it can be, the intensity that’s involved.

“It’s a more comfortable environment, it’s a strange environment, but I think given the public health issues and the potential for a vast increase in the number of people possibly affected by the coronavirus, it’s a very, very serious situation and we can’t isolate football and say we are immune from all of that.”

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