Belfast Telegraph

Coleman: We'll focus to ensure no shock of Gibraltar


Staying grounded: Seamus Coleman
Staying grounded: Seamus Coleman

By Damian Spellman

Seamus Coleman has urged the Republic of Ireland to use the memory of their fright in Gibraltar as they attempt to remain firmly in the hunt for Euro 2020 qualification.

When Group D was drawn, the Republic could have been forgiven for banking six points against the minnows in advance having coasted to 7-0 and 4-0 victories respectively in their only two previous encounters.

However, Mick McCarthy's men survived a major scare in his first game back at the helm in March when, amid a howling gale on the artificial pitch at the Victoria Stadium, they were made to fight for a 1-0 victory.

As they prepare to welcome Julio Ribas' side to the Aviva tonight, Coleman admitted: "It was one we wanted to forget about as quickly as possible.

"We got the three points, which was what we wanted. Everybody expected us to win by more, but ask any of the players - the wind was crazy. It was their first game at home too, which made it more difficult. They were right up for it.

"It was a tough night and a great save by Daz (Randolph) kept us in it, so we have to prepare the same again. At international level, there are no easy games and we have to make sure we are fully prepared."

McCarthy's men go into the game having returned from Denmark on Friday with a precious point secured by Shane Duffy's late header.

The Republic demonstrated their famed resilience once more in Copenhagen, but rode their luck at times to frustrate the Danes again, although they will be expected to make much more of the running in Dublin against a Gibraltar side which lost 3-0 in Georgia on the same evening.

That said, a victory which would leave them on 10 points after four games is the manager's only focus, and he insists the draw at the Parken Stadium will count for little if they do not get the win.

McCarthy said: "I told you I would have taken a draw, but we didn't go and settle for a draw, we weren't looking for that.

"We went looking for a win and we have to back that up with a win. We're at home."

McCarthy will not make changes for change's sake for a game his side is expected to win, although he admitted that substitute Alan Judge, whose cross resulted in Duffy's goal in Denmark, would have had a chance of starting had he not later fractured his wrist.

However, he bristled at the suggestion that events in Copenhagen had served as a reminder of how tough international football is.

He said: "I know I've only had three games doing this job, but I've had 967 games, I think, as a manager. I am fully aware of what goes on and how difficult the games are and I'm fully aware of in international football how difficult the games are.

"I did it a long time ago, but I haven't forgotten how every single game is a real challenge.

"We need to show it again in abundance to win this game against Gibraltar."

Visiting boss Ribas has, meanwhile, warned Gibraltar not to be sucked into believing Duffy is the Republic's only threat as they attempt to pull off a shock.

Asked if he had watched the Denmark game, he said: "I did see it, it was an excellent game to watch.

"To be fair now, in modern football we all know each other. There is no hiding with all the technology and cameras and everything that's available.

"It's important for us not to concede set-pieces around the penalty area with Ireland's strengths, but that's not the only strength Ireland have.

"There are plenty of other strengths that Ireland, as a great team, have that we have to concentrate on and make sure we don't get sucked in."

Gibraltar already have detailed knowledge of the Republic team after handing them that scare in March.

Ribas said: "It was a very good game we played against Ireland. Ireland also played well because it wasn't easy to adapt to the particular conditions on that day, but they are a team of a high level.

"For us, the most important thing is that we continue our growth, to be competitive as a team and to continue our development as a national team to get to a stage where we can look to perform and hurt the teams we are up against."

Rep of Ireland vs Gibraltar

Euro 2020 Qualifying Group D

Aviva Stadium, Tonight, 7.45pm

Belfast Telegraph


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