Belfast Telegraph

Martin O'Neill: Dublin riot 20 years ago was a debacle

By Damian Spellman

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill is hoping to erase memories of the "debacle" of 1995 when England return to Dublin on Sunday.

It is 20 years since a section of the travelling supporters at Lansdowne Road forced the abandonment of the last game in the city between the two nations in a shameful riot after the Repbulic took the lead.

This time around, O'Neill is hoping the far more cordial atmosphere in which a 1-1 draw at Wembley was played out in May 2013 will be repeated as the Republic attempt to hone themselves for the forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.

He said: "It's 20 years ago since the last debacle - I call it a debacle because that's exactly what it was. Hopefully life has moved on since then.

"Of course it's a big game and it obviously has historic interest.

"It's a great game for us to be involved in and barring injury, it will be great preparation for us considering some of the players will not have played for about a month.

"Fitness, whatever you think and how well they are looking after themselves, it will drop a little so that's what this week is about, building up to that, building up to the England game and then forcing it against Scotland."

O'Neill and the bulk of his players met up in Malahide yesterday as June announced itself with howling winds and driving rain, and they will be joined over the next few days by Marc Wilson, Shane Long, Wes Hoolahan, Stephen Ward, Aiden McGeady, Jon Walters and, after LA Galaxy's clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, skipper Robbie Keane.

Defender Paul McShane was the only one of those present not to train as he continued to nurse a badly-gashed leg.

McShane was a member of the Hull squad, along with David Meyler, Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn, who suffered relegation from the Barclays Premier League, while Derby contingent Richard Keogh, Cyrus Christie and Jeff Hendrick and Ipswich duo Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick missed out on promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.

""That would have been a real downer for them. But that's club level, that's gone now. It's a matter of just lifting the players, getting them prepared for this game.

Belfast Telegraph


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