Martin O’Neill awaits disciplinary ruling amid Georgia build-up

Republic of Ireland manager made critical comments about referee after Austria game

Republic of Ireland Manager Martin O’Neill addresses a press conference on Friday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Republic of Ireland Manager Martin O’Neill addresses a press conference on Friday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

As he awaits news from Fifa’s disciplinary committee about what, if any, punishment is meted out for his comments in the aftermath of last month’s World Cup qualifier against Austria, Martin O’Neill insists other distractions like late transfer moves won’t burden the build-up to their visit to Georgia.

The world governing body convened in Zurich on Thursday to review the case against the Republic of Ireland manager for describing the performance of Spanish referee David Fernández Borbalán as “very poor”. The prospect of a suspension, rather than fine, may be more of a concern to James McClean, who branded the Spanish official “Austria’s 12th man”.

Speaking yesterday in Kilkenny, O’Neill remained vexed about the proceedings noting it was governing bodies such as Fifa and Uefa that introduced flash post-match interviews intended to garner immediate reaction, and vowed to suppress his own views in future situations.

“It does force you into your shell at times because you start to think ‘well, what’s the point?’” he said.

“If I looked at something afterwards and felt I really got that hopelessly wrong, then I wouldn’t mind apologising.

“It’s an expression and an impression at that particular time. But, overall, I think it’s forcing people away from having an opinion.”

The frustration conveyed by O’Neill and McClean was prompted by a late disallowed goal against Austria by Shane Duffy which, if stood, would have propelled Ireland two points clear at the summit of Group D with four qualifiers remaining. Instead, he takes his team to Tbilisi on September 2nd deadlocked at the top with Serbia, whom they host three days later.

Transfer activity

That meeting with Georgia comes less than 48 hours before the transfer window closes, a period traditionally busy for Irish players surmising from the first three weeks of the season that their futures in the short or medium term would be better off elsewhere.

Eleven years ago, Steve Staunton’s first competitive game at the helm in Germany was overshadowed by squad disruption owing to personal terms and medicals being arranged. O’Neill didn’t have to contend with such serious stakes last year, given Oman were the opposition in a friendly which combined as a farewell to Robbie Keane, but it still coincided with deadline day switches for Jeff Hendrick and Aiden McGeady.

A number of O’Neill’s mainstays, including first-choice goalkeeper Darren Randolph, could be active before this window shuts and he’s encouraged those in demand to conclude their business early.

“I’ll not be wanting a player coming in, stepping off the plane, and thinking ‘I just want to complete this’,” he asserted.

“It’s different this time because we’re travelling a distance. We could have two or three players where something may be happening in August time. I’ll give them a buzz and say ‘This is the itinerary, this is what’s happening, this is where we are and honestly, regardless, you have to sort this out’. We need total concentration on these games.”

Bray contracts

Meanwhile, League of Ireland director Fran Gavin says the FAI will consider the possibility of cancelling the contracts of Bray Wanderers players should their financial future fail to be secured.

Uncertainty continues to hover over the Wicklow club, with neither the FAI nor the Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) as yet satisfied with the assurances provided by the club’s hierarchy on replacing the funding previously supplied by Gerry Mulvey.

Further confusion arose in recent days when Denis O’Connor resigned as chairman and replaced on an interim basis by Mulvey. As yet, the source of income to honour player contracts for the remainder of the season remains unknown, something Gavin indicated would be clarified next week.

Players fearful of being strung along with false promises until the domestic transfer window closes on July 31st won’t be in limbo if a rescue package doesn’t materialise, according to Gavin.

“We want to keep players playing, and there are some really good players at Bray,” said Gavin. “I don’t think anybody does [/want to see them stuck] and hopefully we don’t get to that stage but we’ll look at all options.”

Despite Bray experiencing financial difficulties from early in the season, Gavin defended the decision of the independent licensing committee to grant them a licence.

“Licensing has worked, adding a lot of stability to the league, but there is always something that happens,” he said. “Unfortunately something out of the blue can happen. That’s the way it works. We try to ensure that there as is little room for error and mistakes as possible.”

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