Donall Farmer/INPHO
O'Neill praises 'excellent' Ireland, expects Keane future to be resolved by Wednesday
The Irish manager was thoroughly satisfied with his side’s performance tonight.

DESPITE IRELAND’S ENCOURAGING display in earning a 0-0 draw with Italy tonight, Roy Keane’s future still inevitably dominated the post-match talk.

The Ireland manager praised his side as “absolutely excellent” and said that he expects the Keane issue to be done and dusted sooner rather than later.

“I haven’t spoken to him today,” O’Neill said. “We were concentrating on the game. I assume something will be resolved by the time we fly out.

“I think it will be resolved by Wednesday. I can’t really tell [if he'll be Celtic manager].

“It’s not a deadline. That’s my assumption. Celtic, among other clubs, are looking at potential candidates. I assume they’ll want to do it relatively quickly.

“I reiterate — we’d all be very disappointed [if he left]. My own view is that he’s settled in well. The players have taken to him. He’s been terrific and the players are really enjoying having him.”

On the match itself, O’Neill was less ambiguous.

“I thought we played very well indeed,” he said. “Italy started well. David [Forde] made two good saves in the first 10 minutes.

“There was a period in the first half where we were absolutely excellent and we continued that in the second half.”

O’Neill added that there was never any chance of Ireland taking it easy in front of a packed crowd, despite end-of-season friendlies being notoriously tame affairs usually.

“When I heard there was going to be 20,000, I knew no one was taking this as a friendly match.

“I thought our play was great and very competitive, which both teams want. It gives us real confidence.

“I think in the games we have played, apart from Poland, we should’ve won all of them.

“That little bit of misfortune in front of goal — hopefully we’re getting that away ahead of the European Championship qualifiers.”

Meanwhile, O’Neill’s opposite number, Italy manager Cesare Prandelli, was far more downbeat in his assessment of the game:

“All our thoughts are with [the injured Riccardo] Montolivo,” he said.

He explained that it was “too emotional now” to assess whether he would be fit for the World Cup and added that they would look at the situation in the morning.

He continued to pay tribute to his captain, who understandably dominated the Italy post-match talk.

“The psychological impact of what happened to Montolivo affected every player,” he said.

“He’s a key player, he has a great personality and all the lads are very shocked about what happened to him tonight.”

Asked to pick out positives from the performance, Prandelli added:

“The keeper made a lot of saves. The performance from [Matteo] Darmian was really positive.

“We are working at the moment and going down the right way and experimenting in midfield and we’re not very fast with the play.

“Overall the performance was very good. But as a team, we could have attacked with more players.”

As it happened: Ireland v Italy, international friendly>

Ireland’s Anthony Pilkington does his best Leo Messi impression>

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