Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Ireland not thinking of revenge

Published:Friday | June 24, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Ireland coach Martin O’Neill hugs Robbie Brady as they celebrate at the end of the Euro 2016 Group E match between Italy and Ireland in Lille, France on Wednesday. Ireland won 1-0.

PARIS (AP):

Forget revenge Ireland's game against France on Sunday is all about a chance to reach the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

That was the message from coach Martin O'Neill yesterday as he prepared for a match in Lyon that carries more than its fair share of historical baggage.

Back in November 2009, Ireland lost a World Cup play-off to France following a blatant handball from forward Thierry Henry in the return leg at Stade de France. After handling it, Henry's cross led to the extra-time equaliser from centre half William Gallas that sent Les Bleus through to the 2010 World Cup on aggregate.

"It's still causing some controversy," O'Neill said.

"But I think maybe perhaps more in France than it is in Ireland. We have decided to forget about (it), and that's some doing coming from Ireland. It will be a talking point, obviously, but I don't think it will concern us when we play the game."

Yesterday, French sports daily L'Equipe showed a photo of Henry handling the ball alongside the caption "Un vieux compte a regler" (An old score to settle).

FRESH CONCERNS

Ireland forward Robbie Keane, centre half John O'Shea, midfielder Glenn Whelan, goalkeeper Shay Given, and winger Aiden McGeady all played that night and are all in the Euro 2016 squad.

Today, O'Neill has fresh concerns notably, how much more rest time France has had.

France played their final group game on Sunday, drawing 0-0 with Switzerland, while Ireland beat Italy 1-0 on Wednesday night thanks to a late goal from midfielder Robbie Brady.

"It does seem a disproportionate amount of time that one team has to recover from another, and that might become very, very important," O'Neill said.

"I do understand as a host nation you should get some particular favours. If the competition was in Ireland, I would do exactly the same myself."