Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Donall Farmer/INPHO Keane speaking to the media in Cork earlier today.
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'You're playing international football. Control the bloody ball!' - Keane
The number two had some harsh words after last night’s 2-1 defeat to Belarus.

IRELAND ASSISTANT BOSS Roy Keane has criticised last night’s performance — saying a number of players should be relieved they have made the Euro 2016 squad.

The Boys in Green put in a below-par display in Keane’s hometown, losing out 2-1 to Belarus at Turner’s Cross, but the friendly was overshadowed by post-match events as Martin O’Neill confirmed the 23 players he will take to France for next month’s tournament.

Number two Keane, who was in flying form this morning as he addressed the media in Cork, expressed his disappointment at their inability to master the simple skills needed to play football.

“They should be (relieved) after one or two of their performances last night,” Keane said. “They should be counting their blessings that they managed to get on the flight, but these things happen.

“It was poor from one or two of the players last night but generally they’ve done okay over the last few years so you can’t be too critical.”

He went on: “Whatever about getting in the final 23, players had an opportunity last night to force themselves into a starting 11 for the Sweden game. Some did okay, and some were very, very poor for international football. It’s really important you control the ball, pass it and move. It’s a pretty simple game really, and if you can’t do that you’re up against it.”

Later in the interview, Keane added: “Last night was a good occasion for some of the players. Whatever was said about it being down in Cork City and the pitch and it was sunny – forget that.

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You are playing international football, you are playing international football. Control the bloody ball, pass it and move to your mates and if you lose it, run back – and run back like you care.”

Roy Keane Donall Farmer / INPHO Keane at Ireland's training ground at Fota Island. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Keane did accept that there was no point looking too much into the final warm-up game and insisted that the team will be ready to face Sweden at the Stade de France on 13 June.

“We all like to win,” he added. “Initially, you are disappointed that you don’t get a good result. As I said, the manager gave players opportunities, whatever about making the final 23, lads were staking a claim to get in the starting 11 and they didn’t take it.

“Overall the group has done really well over the last couple of years with the qualification. We have had some decent results and a good spirit but what you find in sport, you have to deal with setbacks.

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“We were back out on the grass this morning, which was good, and the lads who didn’t play had a really good tempo to the session.

“It was a strange day yesterday. Everyone knew that the manager had to finalise the squad. That can play tricks on your mind sometimes, and I’m not making excuses for the players because I still think you’ve got to be professional.

First and foremost, when you’re a footballer you’ve got to try and control the football. That’s pretty important, whatever is going on in your mind.

“It is put to bed now and we focus on the challenges coming up. There will be commitments off the field this week and we’ve just got to be professional and get on it with it.

“Over the next few days, make sure lads recover alright from the game, although I don’t think it was that physically demanding of a game so it shouldn’t take that much out of the players. Well get ready for the real business in a couple of weeks.”

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