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Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill: We've given everyone a big lift

By Daniel McDonnell

Published 19/11/2015

Upbeat: Martin O’Neill was delighted for the fans
Upbeat: Martin O’Neill was delighted for the fans

Martin O'Neill hopes that qualification for next summer's European Championships has lifted the mood of the nation after the rugby side's failure to make progress in the World Cup.

The Republic of Ireland boss has admitted that the footballers sensed the need to deliver after Joe Schmidt's side failed to live up to expectations, and thinks their win over Bosnia on Monday might lead to a happier Christmas for the sporting public.

"I know these sporting events can sometimes get a bit overplayed," said O'Neill.

"With the disappointment of the rugby side, where there was a great opportunity - I'm not saying to win the tournament against New Zealand as that was always going to be difficult, but perhaps the semi-final - it felt like taking the baton on.

"And, if we hadn't made it, it might have been a lot of drudgery around Christmas time. I'm really, really delighted for the crowd who will come to France."

The Republic boss used a radio appearance to again stress the importance of assistant Roy Keane to the mission and added that his number two should be remembered as a world-class player - his old Manchester United boss recently said that Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs were his only former players in that bracket.

"Roy has been influential, he's an iconic figure and he's been a world-class footballer regardless of what Sir Alex Ferguson says," he joked. "He was a world-class player because he influenced that great Manchester United side like you wouldn't believe.

"He was the driving force of the team and when you are winning leagues and big cups and you have a driving force like that, I'm sorry but you can be classed as nothing else but world-class."

O'Neill added that his 'shy' sidekick was reluctant to join post-match celebrations on the pitch.

He added: "I said, 'Remember I am the older one and you'll have to do what I tell you'. I felt he should take the credit he deserves."

Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters scores his sides first goal of the game from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Jon Walters of Republic of Ireland scores from the penalty spot during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saves an attempt on goal by Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland fans Shane Peppard (centre) with his son Clayton, aged 9, (left) and nephew Sean, 12, from Clondalkin during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
James McCarthy of the Republic of Ireland goes past the tackle from Edin Cocalic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Senad Lulic (rear) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Senad Lulic of Bosnia and Herzegovina takes on Seamus Coleman of the Republic of Ireland iduring the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters (right) has a chance saved by Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (left) during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Wes Hoolahan (R) of Republic of Ireland and Ognjen Vranjes (L) Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans take pictures of there team warming up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Fans make their way into the ground before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Scarves on sale by street sellers before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Ireland's Seamus Coleman during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: The Bosnia and Herzegovina team warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Roy Keane (C) of the Republic of Ireland warms up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane looks on as his players warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland supporters outside the stadium before the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
A general view of the electronic scoreboad and hoarding boards ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A general view of the Aviva Stadium ahead of the the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

O'Neill added: "When I took over, it was supposedly the dawn of a new era.

"People were making vast judgements on friendly matches. For us to go and play proper friendly matches last summer ahead of teams that were playing in the World Cup, like Italy and Costa Rica and Portugal, it was important.

"I had midfield players at full back and, eventually, it stands you in good stead."

Belfast Telegraph

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