'I saw a lot of bitching amongst the players that I've never seen before'

Former Republic of Ireland player Kenny Cunningham was speaking on Off The Ball.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FORMER INTERNATIONAL PLAYER Kenny Cunningham says he saw a sense of disharmony in the Republic of Ireland team during their World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark, that he had not witnessed before.

Ireland’s hopes of making the tournament were obliterated on the back of a 5-1 second leg hammering at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night.

After taking an early lead through a Shane Duffy header, Denmark scored twice in the space of three first-half minutes to steal the advantage and apply the pressure on Martin O’Neill’s men.

Three more goals from the visiting side crushed any possibility of an Ireland comeback, but former Republic of Ireland player Kenny Cunningham could see doubt seeping into the players before the game was out of reach.

Speaking on the Off The Ball AM show, he said that the frustration forcing the players to turn against each other.

“You’re 2-1 down and technically still in the game but you feel as if it’s going against you and you don’t have a grip on it. You’re desperate to get yourselves back in the game and close people down.

“You’re looking at players around, looking in each other’s eyes and thinking, ‘what are we doing here?’

I saw a lot of shouting and screaming last night and a lot of bitching amongst the players that I’ve never seen before. There’s nothing wrong with having a go at a player but there was an awful lot of that last night and that’s how it kind of manifests itself.

“Players can see they’re struggling and they don’t know how to fix it.”

Source: Off The Ball/YouTube


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Gary Breen also spoke on the show, and offered some insightful analysis about Ireland’s downfall. Denmark’s opening goal came from a corner, and Breen believes that set-piece play has been a deficiency in Ireland’s game during Martin O’Neill’s reign.

“I alluded to it in the build-up to first game, saying ‘let’s not have this tie settled on a lack of organisation from a set-piece or a corner.’

“And lo and behold it happens. People will say that they went on to win 5-1 but that was a key moment. When we’re 1-0 up, they would have panicked, I’m sure of it. The crowd would have got behind us and they would have known how difficult it is to break us down.

As soon as that goal was scored, everything changed. People talk about Hendrick not going out there to make it a two versus two from the corner, but the guy who scored the goal is on his own on the edge of the box prior to that ball even being kicked.

“We’re overloaded, we have one man marking two on the edge of the box and I’m looking at that situation and thinking, ‘how can that possibly be so?’ If the players don’t execute it, well then they’re not doing it enough on the training field.”

Subscribe to The42 Rugby Show podcast here:

Last night’s debacle is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Irish football’s problems

‘I’ll speak to John Delaney in the next couple of weeks’ – O’Neill to have ‘a real think’ about his future

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