The road to nowhere: 11 fixtures which called time on the O’Neill years
During final 12 months of manager’s tenure Ireland managed just a single friendly win
Martin O’Neill during Ireland’s 4-1 defeat to Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
If the summer of 2016 was the peak of Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland stewardship, then 2018 was his annus horribilis.
The 5-1 World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark in Dublin in November 2017 set the tone for what was to come the following year.
Including the opening leg of that play-off on November 11th – a goalless draw in Copenhagen – the team’s final 11 fixtures under O’Neill produced just a single victory.
That came in a 2-1 friendly win over the USA on June 2nd – in which Declan Rice was named man of the match.
Aside from that Ireland were beaten five times and held to five draws – during which time they managed just five goals.
Ireland’s startling slump over the past 12 months saw O’Neill’s win percentage reduce at pace – and his win rate of 34 per cent in 55 games makes him statistically the worst national team manager since Jack Charlton took over in 1986.
That doesn’t necessarily mean O’Neill is Ireland’s worst manager since before Charlton. He gave Ireland supporters more great nights than many of his predecessors.
But while he’ll always have Gelsenkirchen, Shane Long’s goal against Germany and and that victory over Italy in Lille, Ireland’s recent results and performances became too poor for O’Neill’s role to continue be tenable.
Here is a look at the 11 fixtures which saw the O’Neill era come to its end.
The road to nowhere
November 11th, 2017, Copenhagen: Denmark 0 Ireland 0 (2018 World Cup play-off first leg)
November 14th, 2017, Dublin: Ireland 1 (Duffy) Denmark 5 (2018 World Cup play-off second leg)
March 23rd, 2018, Antalya: Turkey 1 Ireland 0 (international friendly)
May 28th, 2018, St Denis, Paris: France 2 Ireland 0 (international friendly)
June 2nd, 2018, Dublin: Ireland 2 (Burke, Judge) USA 1 (international friendly)
June 9th, 2018, Cardiff: Wales 4 Ireland 1 (Williams) (Uefa Nations League)
September 11th, 2018, Wroclaw: Poland 1 Ireland 1 (O’Brien) (international friendly)
October 16th, 2018, Dublin: Ireland 0 Wales 1 (Uefa Nations League)
November 15th, 2018, Dublin: Ireland 0 Northern Ireland 0 (international friendly)
November 19th, 2018, Aarhus: Denmark 0 Ireland 0 (Uefa Nations League)