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John Walton Coleman with Italy's Mattia De Sciglio.
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Captain Coleman gave 'inspirational' speech to players before Ireland's win over Italy
The Everton full-back staked a claim for the armband in the absence of Robbie Keane and John O’Shea last night.

- Ben Blake reports from Versailles

SEAMUS COLEMAN HAS captained Ireland before, but last night he made a compelling case for wearing the armband on a permanent basis.

From setting the tone with his early tackle on Mattia De Sciglio, to roaring into the face of James McCarthy and giving a stirring speech to his team-mates, the Everton full-back showed immense leadership qualities in Lille.

It was a proud moment for the former Sligo Rovers defender, and the 27-year-old has made himself the favourite to take over as skipper when Robbie Keane and John O’Shea hang up their international boots.

Speaking today in Versailles, Martin O’Neill explained how he couldn’t be happier with how Coleman stepped up to the plate.

“He’s an impressive, young man,” said O’Neill. “He’s a very quiet, young man, but he’s shown a great intensity in this competition. He’s ready for it.

He embraced the captaincy, took it in his stride. I thought he was a captain in everything he did.

“A couple of players mentioned that he was inspirational in his little speech to the players, which was great.”

O’Neill also emphasised the importance of securing the win after producing such a round performance.

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He added: “We needed to seal that performance last night with a win because I don’t think we wanted to go home feeling, it was a great performance, but should have had a penalty but didn’t, Wes should have scored but didn’t, and do you know what? In two days’ time, it’s forgotten (if Ireland hadn’t won).

“We’ve come up big at the end of the game and deservedly so, but for that to mean that we have qualified and gone through, it was just immense in that sense, so at least we will take great pride in that.”

Listen to The42′s Ben Blake on the 98FM Euro 2016 Daily podcast throughout the tournament 

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