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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Sport

New Ireland boss O'Neill cautious after debut win
AFP
Dublin, November 16, 2013
First Published: 08:45 IST(16/11/2013)
Last Updated: 08:49 IST(16/11/2013)

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill warned there would be tougher tests ahead after his first game in charge ended in a 3-0 friendly win over Latvia in Dublin on Friday.

Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady and Shane Long scored the goals that eased Ireland past their Baltic visitors, but there was little to test the Irish defence from Marian Pahars's side at Lansdowne Road.

O'Neill matched the scoreline of former Ireland boss Steve Staunton's managerial debut, and perhaps with a nod to that ill-fated appointment, cautioned fans about getting over-excited.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the performance and the result, but I accept we will have sterner tests ahead, including one on Tuesday in Poland," the former Celtic, Aston Villa and Sunderland manager said.

"It was a nice win, we played well and got a few nice goals," added O'Neill, who as a player represented Northern Ireland.

"The most important thing is I wanted the players to go and play."

"We talked about pressing high, we wanted the crowd on our side and the closer we are to their goal the better for us."

"There will be other nights when we play, even here, and be second fiddle in terms of possession."

"It's too early to make assumptions though. It was nice to win and I can't tell, as I don't know what happened before, but I was pleasantly surprised with the attitude."

"Some of the lads remarked this was (World Cup) playoff night and they hadn't made it, so they would have been disappointed by that."

There was little hangover evident from the Giovanni Trapattoni era, with Robbie Keane once more proving he is the country's main threat up front, by scoring his 62nd international goal.

The first half strike was the perfect start to the O'Neill era, and the manager praised Wigan's James McClean for his part in the build-up, and his general attacking play.

"Some of the play was terrific, but getting that first goal was very important for us," O'Neill said.

"We were in the ascendancy but still had to get in front. Another 10-15 minutes at 0-0 could have given Latvia confidence."

"Sometimes you have to earn the right to play but we got into our stride quickly and got the crowd enthused."

"McClean was excellent, man-of-the-match and I don't think anyone can disagree."

"He's rejuvenated and played with confidence although he knows I have confidence in him."

Latvia boss Pahars claimed he was not surprised by the defeat, given the difference in quality between the two squads, and predicted a bright future for Ireland.

"If you look at the six substitutions Ireland made, every player they brought on was good as the one that went off," he said.

"It's a good start for Ireland with Martin O'Neill and I think he is a really good choice for the country."

"He is a top manager and together with (assistant manager) Roy Keane, I believe Ireland can achieve anything. That is not just words. It is true."


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