Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill admitted his side let down their supporters with a poor performance in Thursday’s goalless draw against Northern Ireland.
The Republic were second best in the high-profile friendly in Dublin and were grateful to man of the match Darren Randolph for ensuring they did not suffer defeat on home turf as he made saves to deny Gavin Whyte and Jordan Jones.
“We didn’t do enough going forward and through a lot of sloppiness ourselves we nearly gave a couple of goals away,” Martin O’Neill said. “Randolph made a couple of good saves but certainly in terms of going forward we should do better.
“I’m not too worried about them putting on a performance for me, I’m the manager and it’s my responsibility so any bad passes made they eventually are down to me, but overall it’s disappointing for our supporters.
“They’ve paid money and we should do better and be able to create more.”
It was a similar story for Northern Ireland, who like the Republic have struggled in front of goal of late. Their problem has not been creating chances but converting them – a problem they appear no closer to solving.
“I thought we should have won the game,” manager Michael O’Neill said. “We did have to do some defending, but it was mainly set-pieces and free-kicks we gave away around the box.
“In terms of possession of the ball and chances created we should have won the game.
“We have to commend Darren Randolph, he had a great night and made important saves at key moments in the game.
“Overall I’m pleased with the performance. Again the pattern is similar to games we’ve played in the Nations League, we were dominant, very dominant but we didn’t take the chances, but we created a lot.”
The Republic’s problems in attack only grew on the night as Preston striker Sean Maguire – on as a 66th minute substitute, suffered an apparent hamstring injury and had to be replaced himself.
“It looks as though it’s his hamstring again,” Martin O’Neill said. “That’s going to be really unfortunate. He’s been plagued with those recently.
“It’s a blow for the lad, it’s a blow to us and it’s a blow to his club if that’s the case. I don’t know how serious it is at the moment but he’s certainly feeling it.”
The night saw Glenn Whelan make his 85th and most likely last Republic appearance, captaining the side from the start before being replaced with 35 minutes gone.
“First of all, his performances for us have been very, very sound,” Martin O’Neill said in summing up the Aston Villa man’s international career.
“I have to say in the time we were together, he’s a good influence on the team, a good strong influence often in a quiet way. He’s a good influence on the players even outside the playing field so I’ve been very pleased with him.
“I was delighted to be able to give him his opportunity to say ‘Cheerio’ to the fans if that’s the case.”
The night had started with both sets of fans vigorously booing each other’s anthems, but the match was otherwise played in good spirit
“People come to a football ground and if they decide they want to boo an anthem that’s their decision,” Michael O’Neill said.
“I don’t particularly agree with it. I would never condone anyone booing anyone’s anthem but it’s not something I’m in control of so at the end of the day I’m not going to dwell on that.
“I’ll concentrate on football. Both teams played with great spirit, great respect and it was very competitive. When tackles were flying in you see players picking each other up.
“There was great respect between the players and that’s the most important thing.”
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