O’Neill points to lack of composure after defeat to Wales

Manager refuses to blame absence of regulars for heavy loss as those who did play should have done better

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill watches on as Wales score their fourth goal during their  Uefa Nations League at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill watches on as Wales score their fourth goal during their Uefa Nations League at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Martin O’Neill admitted that his Republic of Ireland side was “well beaten” here in Cardiff and that while the absence through injury of several regulars had not helped he made no bones about the fact those who did play simply should have done better.

The Ireland manager pointed once again to his players’ apparent inability to show the sort of composure on players the ball required at this level, a recurring theme for the northerner and a worrying one when both Wales and Denmark are due in next month for games that Ireland cannot afford to lose.

“We have to be more positive on the ball,” he said. “We have to deal with it; be able to deal with it under pressure... that is the sign of a player.

“Tonight we were missing some players but it was a really tough evening regardless of the players who were missing. It was tough but we should have done better.”

Gareth Bale’s performance, he acknowledged, had been a factor in the defeat. “He is a world-class player with the ability to score world-class goals, goals like the one that he scored tonight but he played in Dublin when Séamus Coleman broke his leg and he was fairly quiet that night.

“But we have several players who are not playing regularly in the Championship and it’s difficult, difficult to come in from Championship level and play against the likes of Aaron Ramsey. But still, we came here 11 months ago and won the game. Okay, we were beaten then by Denmark but they didn’t do too badly at the World Cup.

“We will go away after this and look back at the game, look at the mistakes we made, too many mistakes but hopefully we will learn from it and hopefully we will have one or two players back for the games next month. Whether we do or not, we will be up for those games.”

Asked if he had expected more from Ireland, Ryan Giggs mulled it over for a moment or two before observing: “I think you have to give credit to ourselves. There wouldn’t have been many teams that would have lived with us tonight, the way we played, the trust we showed in each other.”

On balance, he insisted, “we can always do better, there are things that we didn’t do so well as a team, with a little bit more care there might have been a few more goals, but I talked about individuals going out there and expressing themselves on the ball and that’s what they went out and did.

He was, he said, generally pleased with the performance and the winning start to the campaign but suggested that things will be tougher for his side in Aarhus on Sunday now that Denmark are in a position to field their full team.

“We have two Nations League games in this first window and it’s great to get that win but now we have a very tough game to come; I don’t know what their preparations have been like but they a world top-10 team, probably the favourites to win this group and so we might have to play even better. I said it to the players afterwards, that the bad news is they will have to keep those standards up now.”

As for Bale’s contribution, he seemed surprised that anybody would be.

“Every time Gareth plays he makes a difference, whether it is for Real Madrid or Wales. He is a special player who gives everyone a lift and he is an example to the all of the others, someone who shows them what you have to do to get to that level.”

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