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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 5 July, 2020

Dunphy 'baffled' by O'Neill's Ireland team

The controversial pundit has suggested last night’s Oman friendly was a “completely meaningless exercise”.

Dunphy feels O'Neill should have tested out the O'Shea-Wilson centre-back partnership.
Dunphy feels O'Neill should have tested out the O'Shea-Wilson centre-back partnership.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FORMER IRISH INTERNATIONAL and football pundit Eamon Dunphy says he was “baffled” by Ireland’s match with Oman last night, questioning why manager Martin O’Neill left out several first-choice players.

A team comprised mostly of fringe players defeated their Asian opponents 2-0, ahead of the team’s opening European Championships qualifier against Georgia on Sunday.

“I thought it was a completely meaningless exercise,” Dunphy told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme. ”It’s a mystery. It was a golden opportunity to play the team that will start against Georgia for an hour. The centre-half partnership of Marc Wilson and John O’Shea have never played together in central defence, for example. It was a golden opportunity for them to play together.”

“You need to get the rhythm and shape together of the team for Sunday. I don’t think the reason [O'Neill] gave, that players are unfit, stands up to scrutiny.”

“If last night was nothing to do with Sunday, and on the face of it it wasn’t, what was the purpose of it? To get 14,000 people into the Aviva?”

However in spite of these issues, Dunphy’s remains confident that Martin O’Neill can deliver success as Ireland manager

“I feel optimistic,” he revealed. “I have great faith in Martin O’Neill and a lot of faith in the players he has at his disposal.

“It is a tough group, there is no doubting that, but the Trapattoni era was a lost era. I think Martin will play the best players and will get the most out of them, so I’m very optimistic indeed.”

5 talking points from last night’s Ireland-Oman game>

Confidence not an issue ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener>

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