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11th Jun 2024

James McClean speaks about the quality Ireland have regained under John O’Shea


“I think in the last few years we’ve gone away from that.”

James McClean has said that the Republic of Ireland are once again ‘hard to beat’ under interim manager John O’Shea.

The Wrexham winger appeared as a pundit on RTÉ’s coverage of Ireland’s friendly against Portugal on Tuesday night and was asked about his former teammate’s stint as interim coach.

O’Shea oversaw a win against Hungary in a friendly last week, and spoke about trying to make the national team ‘hard to beat.’

McClean, who won 103 caps for Ireland, said that he feels Ireland lost that quality in the last few years.

The Derry native did not mention Stephen Kenny, the former Ireland boss, by name, but referenced that the team moved away from a pragmatic style in recent years.

McClean noted that Ireland reached tournaments in the recent past by being ‘hard to beat.’

“It’s a trait that served us well,” McClean said.

“We qualified for two tournaments – Euro 2012 and 2016 – and we got to a play-off under Mick McCarthy.

“If Mick had been in charge, we potentially may have got to three in a row with that style of play,” McClean said, referring to Ireland missing out on qualification for Euro 2020.

The Boys in Green secured a play-off under McCarthy, but Kenny took over ahead of the play-off semi-final due to a previous contract arrangement and the tournament being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ireland subsequently lost the play-off semi-final on penalties to Slovakia and didn’t qualify for a major tournament under Kenny.

McClean appeared encouraged to see Ireland becoming ‘hard to beat again’.

“I think, nowadays, you can be sucked into the whole Total Football and statistics.

“Yeah, we had 59 per cent possession, but a lot of it was across the backline, and we lost the game.

“We’ve always been hard to beat, and I think in the last few years we’ve gone away from that.

“That’s what we built our foundations on, being hard to beat and having a bit of nastiness about us because you’re always going to get chances in a game.

“Hearing those comments (by O’Shea) and seeing the last three games we’ve played, we have become hard to beat again.”

You can watch the clip below.

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