Ireland play Georgia in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier on Sunday and the Everton contingent, led by Coleman, is determined to take three points
By Ciarán D'arcy in DublinSeamus Coleman is confident that a resurgent Ireland can make up for past disappointments starting with three points in Georgia on Sunday in Euro 2016 qualification. The Everton right-back is hoping to replicate his blistering form at club level as he and his fellow Toffees team-mates look to make amends for Ireland’s World Cup absence during the summer.
“I was watching the [World Cup] games and I really enjoyed it, but you just wanted to be part of it, and obviously I didn’t play in the last European Championships so I’m definitely hungry to be a part of that, and that’s what you want as an international player - to play on the biggest stage,” said the former Sligo Rovers defender.
Coleman was impressed with David Meyler’s performance as the Hull City midfielder deputised at right-back during last night’s 2-0 win over Oman with manager Martin O’Neill resting various key players ahead of Sunday’s opening qualifier. Having done their homework on the upcoming opposition, Coleman believes that the Georgians will prove a much sterner test as compared to Wednesday’s run out.
“They get behind the ball, they defend well and make it difficult and they have some good players on the counter. We’ve watched a few clips of teams who have gone there like France and Spain and it wasn’t too easy, so we know it’s going to be difficult, but we’re set up well so hopefully we’ll be coming out of there with three points,” he said.
Everton’s contribution of four players to O’Neill’s first competitive squad is the largest representation from any one club, and midfielder James McCarthy believes that the familiarity formed between himself, Coleman, Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady at club level will aid Ireland’s chances of qualification.
“Aiden’s been in there [at Everton] and he’s been playing, Seamus has been brilliant to work with and is carrying on his form from last season which is brilliant to see," he said.
"It was a good win for us last night, we kept the ball really well and we want to push on now, it’s a new start for everyone involved and one that we’re all really excited about,” said Scottish-born McCarthy, who also expressed his belief that teams like Scotland, Poland and Georgia will all take points off each other in an ultra-competitive group.
Despite a stuttering performance against the Omanis, Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane doesn’t think that too much should be read into last night’s result in the grand scheme of the team’s progression.
“Let’s not over-analyse that game last night, there were no injuries and it was a stepping stone into what’s going to happen over the next few months ahead,” said Keane.
While acknowledging the loss of winger James McClean as a blow to the squad, the former Manchester United midfielder says that the friendly game proved a useful opportunity to get minutes on the clock for other players.
“There were lots of positives. If you look at the starting 11 last night there were a lot of people who needed to get minutes under their belts, like Meyler, Shay [Given], Gibbo, Wardy, there were pluses from last night but that’s not really going to define what will happen over the course of the next year,” he said.