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'It's not the players who will cost us our place in the World Cup - it's O'Neill and Keane'

Eamon Dunphy took issue with the management team’s inconsistency and doesn’t believe the Irish will make it to Russia next summer.

Image: Ryan Byrne; ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne/INPHO

EAMON DUNPHY BELIEVES that if the Republic of Ireland fail to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia the blame will lay firmly with the management team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane.

Speaking on RTE in the aftermath of Ireland’s 1-0 defeat to Serbia at the Aviva Stadium, Dunphy described it as ‘a sad night’.

“It’s a sad night, really, because I don’t think we will get to the World Cup,” he said.

“I think the management have questions to answer. David Meyler was rightly the Man of the Match. He’s been sitting on the bench for a long time, waiting for a chance to go into the slot where Glenn Whelan is. There are many questions you could ask our management team. It’s not the players who will cost us our place in the World Cup – it’s Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane.”

Dunphy pointed to what he considered the ‘inconsistency’ displayed by the duo in recent days and the failure of certain personnel changes.

“We proved for an hour tonight that we have a good team,” Dunphy said.

“We have a lot of good players who can play. We played the best side in the group and we troubled them. But when you look at the inconsistency in the management team’s choices – between last Saturday, when we were outplayed by Georgia – and you look at the difference tonight: changes in selection, changes in style, changes in the role of James McClean, for example. He played in midfield tonight – I think that’s crazy. Robbie Brady, we can conclusively say, is a much better player for Ireland and Burnley when he’s at left-back. He didn’t play well again in midfield.

Wes Hoolahan should always play when he’s available. If he played for an hour against Georgia on Saturday, we’d have got three points.”

Liam Brady was less damning in his analysis of the slender loss, believing the Irish side can go to Wales and win in their final group fixture and give themselves a chance of qualifying.

He also felt the inclusions of Meyler and Hoolahan were crucial to the team improving substantially from the dire weekend draw against Georgia but that a lack of composure late in the game made it easy for a well-prepared Serbia.

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Filip Kostic and David Meyler Source: James Crombie; ©INPHO/James Crombie/INPHO

“Although it’s a bitter blow, we played well here tonight and we can take a lot from that game,” Brady said.

“Meyler, without doubt, made a huge difference in the middle of the park. I thought that after the game against Austria – when he played so well – that he should’ve been given that slot in front of the defence. He’s got that personality and he’s positive with his passing. Hoolahan, again, made the difference.

We were too anxious to cross the ball and to shoot. We must’ve had six or seven shots late on. We never hit the target once, I don’t think. We were snatching. We were uptight. We should’ve been a bit more patient. We were too anxious to get the ball in the box and they knew what was coming. They knew how we play.”

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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