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'What's the point of sitting in, losing 1 - 0 and feeling as if you've a moral victory?' - O'Neill

The Ireland manager says he was happy to risk falling 2 – 0 down in search of what could prove a “vital” point.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IRELAND BOSS MARTIN O’Neill praised a ‘terrific’ response from his players after falling behind to Germany in Gelsenkirchen last night.

A 71st minute strike from Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos looked like it would hand all three Euro 2016 qualification points to the hosts. Ireland rallied, however, and forced two clear-cut opportunities in the dying minutes, the second of which was put away by John O’Shea.

Asked whether he had considered restraining his attacks and settle for the minimal damage of a 1- 0 loss, O’Neill became more animated:

“We could have done, but what’s the point?” the Derry man said with an irritated shrug.

“I know you’re talking about goal difference and things like this here, but I don’t mind losing a second goal if we’re going on a quest for an equaliser.

“What’s the point of sitting in and losing 1 – 0 and feeling as if you’ve a moral victory? I don’t want moral victories. I want us to go and compete.

“The response from the players from a goal behind was terrific.”

“There’s always the chance that they could score a second goal, but it was just a fantastic effort from the team.”

As for the identity of the goal-scoring hero, O’Neill sounded as surprised as anyone to see O’Shea wheeling away celebrating. But on the night of the Waterford man’s 100th cap and with the captaincy bestowed on him for the closing minutes, it only seemed right.

https://vine.co/v/OqiBFeMLgp7

“It was everything, he even had the captain’s armband at the same time. You have to give great credit to Jeff Hendrick who put the ball back in again.

“Funny enough we had a chance just before that, Wes had a chance blocked – a great block by the German defender – but we had a chance. We just never gave up. That was the point. We kept going, like [against] Georgia. I never felt, despite their goal that we were ever actually out of the game.

“If I think that, then it’s great credit to the players.”

After a dramatic finish to claim all three points against Georgia, last night’s draw in Germany means Ireland sit level with Poland at the top of Group D and confidence is growing after each late goal.

Never say die

“We’ve shown a great spirit,” enthused O’Neill, “spirit alone, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, won’t be enough. But there is a great never-say-die attitude with the players — we’ve picked up seven points now [after] two tough away games and one more to complete before we get a break in November.

“It keeps us going.”

O’Neill’s feet remain firmly planted though, and last night’s seismic results have not changed his perception of his rivals within the group.

“Germany are still the strongest team in the group. Having watched the game against Poland, they could easily have won that particular match and they will naturally be disappointed to concede so late on in the game, but from our viewpoint, it’s another point.

“It’s a precious point and it might be vital.”

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Sean Farrell

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