'Bring on the hostile atmosphere,' declares Keane

The Ireland number two was in bullish form ahead of the trip Tbilisi for Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifying curtain-raiser.

Keane at Gannon Park earlier today.
Keane at Gannon Park earlier today.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

AFTER TEN LONG months of having to make do with warm-up matches, Ireland management team Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will finally get their teeth into a competitive international in three days’ time.

The road to France begins in Tbilisi on Sunday when the Boys in Green take on Georgia in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier (5pm Irish time).

Much has been made of the difficult atmosphere the Irish players will be heading into at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, but assistant manager Keane rejected such sugggestions when asked about it during today’s media briefing at Malahide’s Gannon Park this afternoon.

“We’ll be fine,” Keane said. “Everyone seems frightened to death, particularly the media. There’s a lot of negativity. We’ve got a top, top manager and we will be ready. Don’t be worried about it.

“It will be a tough game particularly away from home. From the angle I’m looking at it certainly over the next few days we’ve just got to get our own act together and make sure we’ve got it rightly tactically and pick the right team and if we’re at it hopefully we can give them a tough game.

“The reason we play these game is to get involved in tough qualifying matches. It’s going to be tough obviously but my goodness we’ve got to look forward to the game. People are on about a hostile atmosphere. Brilliant, bring it on!”

Roy Keane The assistant boss takes questions at Gannon Park. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A second-string Irish team claimed a 2-0 victory over Oman in Dublin last night with the returning Kevin Doyle and defender Alex Pearce among the goals. And while Keane says the fixture was a worthwhile exercise, he admits that there is little point in over-analysing it.

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“I think there were lots of positives,” he added. “If you look at the starting eleven, a lot of the lads needed to get minutes under their belts. People like Meyler, Shay, Wardy at left-back, Gibbo in the middle of the park and Doyler up front.

“There were pluses to last night but that won’t really define what’s going to happen over the next year or two. We appreciate that.”

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Ben Blake

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