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'The Slovakia lad put the second goal in with his arm'

Despite some encouraging displays, the Boys in Green had to settle for a draw last night.

Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph is beaten as Paul McShane turns the ball in to his own net.
Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph is beaten as Paul McShane turns the ball in to his own net.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated at 11.33

JOHN O’SHEA WAS a somewhat frustrated man following last night’s encounter with Slovakia.

The team’s normally excellent defence, who conceded just seven goals in 10 qualifying group games, did not look quite so assured on this occasion. And while O’Shea insisted that the second goal should have been disallowed, the Sunderland defender acknowledged that both efforts were still preventable.

“It was hugely frustrating from a throw-in in their half,” he said of Slovakia’s opener.

“We had the blow of losing Robbie (Elliot) too. But we reacted fantastically and went ahead and obviously, you’re disappointed to concede any time, but just before half-time was very frustrating.

“There were lots of positives from the first half, but conceding goals is something you want to cut out.

“The Slovakia lad put the second goal in with his arm.

When we get 2-1 up, we need to go in at half-time 2-1 up, that’s the big thing we can learn from tonight.”

Asked about the positives that can be taken from the 2-2 draw, O’Shea added: “The attacking play, we pressed Slovakia a lot more, and possession-wise as well.

“The manager said ‘we need to do more tonight’ and I thought (it was better), especially in the first half, when Wes was really picking up important positions, and obviously, you had (Shane) Long-y and James (McClean) stretching them.

“We were able to dominate them quite a bit and you could definitely see that in the first half.”

O’Shea’s teammate Cyrus Christie was slightly more positive about the game — Ireland’s third last scheduled match before the 2016 Euros get underway.

I think we performed well. I would have liked to have got on the ball more, but that’s what happens in football sometimes, you don’t get the ball as much as you want.

“The manner we conceded the goals was a bit sloppy, but that’s expected when the team’s been changed around. Not many of the lads have played together before, but I think we controlled the game throughout and on another day, we win that comfortably.”

Asked to elaborate on manager Martin O’Neill’s pre-match instructions, Christie explained: “He told us we were playing a diamond before the game.

You’re out there on your own isolated at times (at full-back), it’s a tough role to play, but I enjoyed it and it’s always an honour to play for my country. Martin O’Neill gives me the freedom to play, and I think I thrive off it.”

Asked about the Euros and his hopes of making the 23-man Euros squad, Christie said he was trying to put it out of his mind for the time being.

“I’m not thinking too far ahead… I’ve got to go back to Derby and play well, and that has to be the main focus at the minute.

Once the season’s out of the way, I can start thinking and dreaming about the Euros.”

And is Christie confident he has done enough to secure a place in the 23-man panel as Seamus Coleman’s deputy at right-back?

“I think I’ve done myself no harm with my performances. I have to keep going out there and impressing.

“Hopefully, I’ve put the thought in (Martin O’Neill’s) head that I’m good enough to go to the Euros.”

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Paul Fennessy

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