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Seamus Coleman: Republic were poor but will go to Moldova "on a bit of a buzz"

Published 07/10/2016

Martin O'Neill was a relieved man after seeing his side edge to victory over Georgia
Martin O'Neill was a relieved man after seeing his side edge to victory over Georgia

Seamus Coleman is urging the Republic of Ireland to make the most of their good fortune against Georgia by completing a six-point World Cup qualifying haul in Moldova.

Martin O'Neill's men turned in a tepid display against the Georgians at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday evening, but still managed to emerge victorious from a game in which they enjoyed more than their fair share of good luck.

Captain Coleman's first senior international goal on his 40th appearance for his country ultimately won the day and left the Republic in a four-way tie with Wales, Serbia and Austria at the top of Group D.

Now they head for Chisinau to face rock-bottom Moldova knowing they will have to raise their standards if they are to achieve a perfect return from two games which O'Neill has all week insisted was far from a foregone conclusion.

Coleman said: "We can go over to Moldova on a bit of a buzz, but had we not got the result it would have been disappointing.

"It's all about getting points on the board. I know for the fans and the media, you'd like us to do better and it was a disappointing performance, but the three points [are what matter]."

There were choice words in the home dressing room at half-time with Ireland knowing they were fortunate to be level after Levan Mchedlidze and Guram Kashia had been denied by the bar and the post in quick succession.

Coleman said: "We felt relieved because we should have been one down. We were poor and the manager let us know. He gave us a bit of a rollicking at half-time, which we deserved.

"I don't think any of us came in at half-time thinking that we did well, because we didn't. We went out second half a little bit better and got the goal at the right time.

"As a performance, it wasn't great, but it's all about the three points."

Coleman took over the armband as the Republic's Euro 2016 finals came to a head with O'Neill ushering in a new generation of leaders.

With Robbie Keane's illustrious international career now at an end and John O'Shea approaching his 36th birthday, the Everton full-back has taken on the mantle and is leading in his own way.

Keane had a knack of popping with a crucial goal just when his side needed it most and while Coleman may not do that as regularly, his maiden international strike proved invaluable.

It came in unlikely circumstances 11 minutes after the break when he skipped past Giorgi Navalovski and surged into the penalty area, making the most of touches from defenders Solomon Kverkvelia and Kashia, as well as team-mate Jonathan Walters, to walk the ball into the empty net.

Asked if he felt an added responsibility to spark his team into life as skipper, Coleman said: "Not necessarily. I get asked that question a lot, but I try not to change and just do my job.

"I felt at that time I could get past the full-back, which I did. I got a little bit of luck at the end that I probably deserved for the run I made and thankfully I got my first international goal."

Jeff Hendrick will be suspended for the Moldova game after picking up a second booking of the campaign, while fellow midfielder Robbie Brady is unlikely to be involved after being knocked unconscious in a clash of heads.

Coleman said: "They're big players, but that's the manager's job to get players in. It's up to players to prove why they're in the squad with a performance."

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Ireland has confirmed that the Republic will host Uruguay in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium on June 4 next year, seven days before their World Cup qualifier against Austria.

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