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24th Mar 2024

“That would have been Robbie protecting the taker” – O’Shea clears up penalty confusion

Niall McIntyre

John O’Shea has praised Evan Ferguson despite his penalty miss against Belgium.

Ferguson missed the chance to put Ireland one goal to the good in their international friendly on Saturday, as the sides played out a 0-0 draw at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland had been awarded a first half penalty after a hand-ball from Atletico Madrid defender Arthur Vermeeren but having appeared to slip during his run-up, Ferguson’s subsequent effort was saved by Nottingham Forest keeper Matz Sels.

Republic of Ireland interim manager John O’Shea has none-the-less hailed the 19-year-old for his ‘courage’ in stepping up to take the spot-kick, and praised him for not allowing it impact on the rest of his performance.

“It was just unfortunate Ev had a little slip just before he knocked it so it would have put him off,” O’Shea said after the game.

“A youngster stepping up like that, it shows the courage he has and he didn’t let it affect him, he knocked into the centre backs as soon as he could again and got his confidence going again.”

With Robbie Brady back on the pitch for Ireland for the first time in over a year, there had been some confusion as to who would take the penalty, with Brady appearing keen to line it up, but O’Shea said that it was instead a case of Brady ‘protecting the taker.’

“Evan would have been on the penalties, that would have been Robbie protecting the taker type of scenario,” O’Shea added, explaining the call to let Ferguson take the penalty.

“It’s one of those things, he was unlucky with one [chance] where he was in a great position in the second half as well,” continued O’Shea.

“He will be ready to go as soon as we need him to. He will have another spell five or six years down the line with a couple of months without a goal, it happens to top strikers. As soon as he gets on the goal trail, he will back on a run,” O’Shea said.

Ireland will be back in action on Tuesday night when they host Switzerland in the Aviva Stadium at 7.45, and, given the positive performance on Saturday, there has been speculation that O’Shea will extend his tenure beyond that game.

He was coy on his future when Will Dalton from Virgin Media put him on the spot.

“Ask me again after Switzerland,” said the Waterford man.

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