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26th Sep 2022

Martin O’Neill doesn’t wait for a second invitation to settle an old score with Matt Doherty

Niall McIntyre

Matt Doherty did plenty of good things in Ireland’s loss to Scotland.

As ever, he was tidy in possession and, whenever that right flank opened up in front of him, he was one of our best attacking threats.

But there’s only one thing he’ll be remembered for. And when he thinks about it, he’ll surely be shaking his head about the way it all went.

Ryan Christie stood him up before Scotland’s first goal and when Christie made a move, Doherty didn’t get near him.

His tired effort to stop him had all the hallmarks of a man who, like Doherty, hadn’t been playing first team football. It seemed like that lack of match fitness caught up on him and then caught him out.

And while many Ireland fans were quick to criticise him, no doubt about it, there was one man who was never going to spare him.

As his fellow panellists talked about the goal, the Derryman bided his time. Then he went for the jugular.

“Matt Doherty will be disappointed with that,” began Premier Sport pundit Richard Dunne, which prompted former Aston Villa right back Alan Hutton to suggest that “that’s what happens when you’ve not been playing regularly.”

“That’s what matters when you can’t defend,” retorted O’Neill, quick as a flash.

As you can see from his in the footage below, Richard Dunne could see exactly what this was about. Doherty and O’Neill have history you see.

It was back in 2018, when o Neill wasn’t picking him , when Doherty went onto the radio and tore into the Ireland manager.

“Everyone thinks there wasn’t a game plan every time, that’s not entirely true,” he said.

“Sometimes there was, sometimes it was less clear,” Doherty said on 2FM’s Game On.

“Compared to the set-up I have at Wolves, you could class it as old-school. When you were away with Ireland, you didn’t really have that much coaching. It was more of five-a-side, or 11-a-side game, and that would be it.”

“You’d have a few players thinking ‘we’ll play this shape’, or someone else thinking something else. You can’t have that, especially at international football, people not really sure on what their role is the next day.”

But O’Neill showed it on Sunday. He who laughs last, laughs longest.

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