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'Conversation should be about state of Irish football, not O'Neill and Keane'

Richie Sadlier says there’s bigger issues than Weso’s selection.

A young Ireland fan after the full-time whistle last night.
A young Ireland fan after the full-time whistle last night.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

AFTER LAST NIGHT’S hugely-frustrating defeat to Serbia in Dublin, much of the talk in workplaces and Whatsapp groups will be about Martin O’Neill’s gameplan, the standard of referring in international football and why professional footballers can’t beat the first defender with a cross.

But the discussion should be wider than that ultimately, according to RTÉ pundit Richie Sadlier.

“In relation to the abilities and limitations of the players and what our expectations should be, this is a conversation that goes on all the time and it usually really ramps up when it comes to the end of a campaign when we haven’t done well or the end of a manager’s spell in charge and we blame solely the manager and his assistant or do we have a wider conversation about Irish football,” he said on Morning Ireland.

“And I think that conversation needs to happen. We are not producing players; look at the composition of the Ireland squad, young players are not coming through, the talent does not seem to be there.

“So I think that’s where the focus of the conversation needs to be – it’s not where’s it’s going to be. It’s going to be all about what has Martin O’Neill done wrong, what does Roy Keane do and should these two get more out of these players.

“I think on the one hand, yes; I think the continuous selection of Wes Hoolahan on the bench is just a puzzle. I don’t know why that has been the case. You can say we’re a limited group but the ones with talent and quality, should be on the pitch.”

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Ireland now, of course, face mounting an unlikely route to Russia. Beating Moldova at home next month will set up a loser-leaves-town clash with Wales in Cardiff — but success there may not even be sufficient at this stage to clinch a playoff spot.

“[Qualification] does look difficult. On the one hand winning two games is absolutely doable, we shouldn’t fear going to Cardiff,” said the Second Captains pundit.  ”I don’t think Wales are of a quality that we should think we shouldn’t beat them. The problem is we’ve done so little in the group, we’ve amassed so few points, winning two games might not be enough.”

 

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