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17th Nov 2014

You don’t see the dressing room afterwards. We’re all so frustrated: John O’Shea

Defender claims that Roy Keane has been nothing but helpful

Conan Doherty

John O’Shea doesn’t look like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

He arrives at Ireland’s pre-game press conference with a smile on his face.  He’s ready for the doom.  Ready for the gloom.  He meets both of them head on.  He has been here before.

He knows that Friday night’s result won’t determine the country’s qualifying outcome for France in 2016 and he looks determined to put things right from what he sees as one mistake that cost an entire night’s work in Glasgow.

He looks strong sitting next to his manager.  A reliable support system, even.  He looks like a captain.

John O'Shea, Martin O'Neill and Peter Sherrard 17/11/2014

And that will be his role again at the Aviva on Tuesday night as he prepares to lead the country out against America for what will be his 102nd cap.  Robbie Keane’s departure back to the States has left the armband vacant this week and the Waterford man, who skippered the side on Friday as well, is ready to take up the role.

His first job is righting the wrongs of Celtic Park.

“It’s so frustrating more than anything.  We’re all frustrated, you don’t see inside the dressing room afterwards,” he reflected on the result at the weekend.  “We don’t just hang around the hotel doing nothing.  Obviously there’s a lot of analysis that goes on – including what the manager has to say afterwards and in the couple of meetings since the game – there’s a lot of analysis that goes on.

“Obviously it’s disappointing when you lose a game.  I felt like it was going to head for a 0-0.  The most disappointing thing was that the manager and the staff had explained to us about set pieces and different things and how important they were going to be and how important they will be in games coming up, how important they are in games that are tight.  That was the disappointing thing on the night to concede the goal that we did.

“Obviously Scotland said that they worked on it but they had a little bit of luck in the transition on the set play and unfortunately we didn’t act quickly enough to stop it.

“It’s something we’ll need to improve on and it’s something we’ll have to improve on attacking-wise as well – our set pieces – because they are so crucial.  You see, not only at international level, but week in week out in the Premier League, they’re deciding the big games and that’s something we have to make sure we improve on.  We have improved on it but we need to improve again, obviously.  But hopefully we’ll have 2015 to put that right.”

Amidst the furore that is Roy Keane, or the perception of him, O’Shea laughed off suggestions that the assistant manager was anything other than a positive influence in the Irish dressing room.

“Look, it doesn’t bother us one bit, lads.  Honestly.  I don’t see it either way.  It’s more so yourselves that really enjoy those facts (about Keane’s club links, book, and Wednesday night hotel incident).  We have our jobs to do on the pitch.  Ultimately, we train great, everything’s prepared for us great and it’s just up to us to do the job on the pitch.

“It’s brilliant having him on board with us.  Along with the rest of Martin’s coaching team, obviously Roy brings his experience playing at such a high level.  But also just his passion for the job.  All those factors combined are very helpful.”

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