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'We're still in this' - Home form most important for qualification, insists O'Neill

The Ireland boss believes there was very little between the sides at Cetic Park.

O'Neill grabs the ball from Strachan.
O'Neill grabs the ball from Strachan.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

IN THE WAKE of the 1-0 defeat to Scotland, Martin O’Neill claimed that Ireland’s pursuit of a spot at Euro 2016 will ultimately come down to their home form.

The Ireland manager saw his team lose for the first time in the current qualifying campaign with Shaun Maloney’s 74th-minute strike proving decisive at Celtic Park.

“I thought it was a frenetic match,” O’Neill said at his post-match press conference. “It was stop-start a lot of times and littered with fouls — just like a derby game in many respects. I thought we were going to get something out of the game.

“I thought the two sides cancelled each other out. It’s the usual phrase but I believe that that was happening in the game and I thought we were not on phenomenal danger when the goal occurred.

“I don’t think any of the two teams were able to get the ball down and play. Certainly after the first ten or 15 minutes of the game, it developed in that style. Scotland didn’t get hold of it and we weren’t able to do so either and the game developed in that pattern.

“We’ve said for a couple of weeks that this was going to be a derby game, a derby feel and it had that atmosphere. None of the two teams were able to get it down and keep possession in the game long enough.

Whether it was because of the atmosphere or maybe a little bit of nervousness that is attached to it. That applied to both teams.”

Next up for Ireland is the visit of the US to Dublin for a friendly on Tuesday followed by a three-month break from qualifiers and O’Neill says they will regroup before Poland at home on 29 March.

“That’s us and Scotland on seven points each,” he added. “In truth, I think that our own faith will depend on what happens in the Aviva Stadium. We’ve got four of the next five games at home and come out of what is considered a difficult time. We’ve played three away games and one at home and got seven points on the board.

“Scotland have joined us on that at this minute. Poland have won in Georgia and I still think Germany are the strongest team in the group.

“We have to go and get ourselves together. I know we have a game in a couple of days’ time but if we’re talking about it now for March we have to go and be ready for Poland.

“Where it will always count for us is in the Aviva whether we are able to go and win those home games. We are absolutely still in this, without a doubt.”

Heavy queues outside Celtic Park meant lots of fans missed the kick-off tonight

Occasion may have got the better of McGeady and others as luck runs out for O’Neill

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Ben Blake

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