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'I'm not going to get involved in that now' - John O'Shea on retirement talk

At 35, many people suspect the defender has played his last game for his country.

Ireland's John O'Shea holds a young boy in front of supporters after the Euro 2016 round of 16 soccer match between France and Ireland.
Ireland's John O'Shea holds a young boy in front of supporters after the Euro 2016 round of 16 soccer match between France and Ireland.

- Paul Fennessy reports from Lyon

IRELAND CENTRE-BACK John O’Shea remained coy amid retirement talk following Ireland’s Euro 2016 exit at the hands of France on Sunday.

The Sunderland defender has featured regularly in the Irish defence since making his international debut in 2001 under Mick McCarthy, earning 111 caps in the process.

However, at 35, many have tipped the Waterford native to hang up his boots at international level, with younger centre-backs such as Shane Duffy coming through.

Asked about his possible retirement, O’Shea said: “I’m not going to get involved in that now.

I’m just going to enjoy the night with a special group of players and a special coaching staff and backroom staff and reflect on the last few weeks that have been very special, especially when you have that moment with the fans in the corner (after the match) — that is something that I’ll cherish for a long time.”

The former Man United defender described the manner in which Ireland exited the tournament as “hugely disappointing”.

You go 1-0 up so early in the game. The momentum from the Italy game is carried forward. You can see the enjoyment and the confidence is still there. You could go 2-0 up then.

“Obviously you know France are going to get a bit more of the ball.

All the 50:50 decisions are going to go their way then after we get the penalty decision early on.

“When they do get the ball, you can just see the adrenaline that the boys are running on, it takes a knock when you concede that second one so quickly. It’s frustrating and hugely disappointing but we still stuck at it. Up until the last few minutes, we were still in it.”

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One potential long-term replacement for O’Shea is Shane Duffy, who made his first two competitive appearances for Ireland during Euro 2016.

And while the Derry native had a difficult afternoon in Lyon, getting sent off for taking down Antoine Griezmann when the striker was through on goal, over the course of the tournament, the defender has made a positive impression on proceedings and looked like someone capable of starring in the Irish defence for many years to come.

Big Shane had to make that decision,” O’Shea said of the red card. “He kept us in the game as well and again tonight, he was outstanding, he really relished the situation he was in. Himself and Richard (Keogh), and not only the two boys at centre-back, but across the whole pitch, the effort and quality that the boys were showing at times was brilliant to see. It was a big disappointment to go out.

And finally, despite Sunday’s disappointment, does he feel Euro 2016 can be judged a success from an Irish point of view?

“Ultimately, yes. The positives outweigh the negatives and that’s the big thing, because the World Cup qualifiers come around so quickly. The feeling of this tournament compared to four years ago is very different.”

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Paul Fennessy

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