Martin O'Neill accepts criticism after woeful first-half Ireland display against Georgia

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Martin O'Neill accepts criticism after woeful first-half Ireland display against Georgia

Martin O'Neill played down the significance of his half-time rant directed at his faltering Ireland players as they stumbled to a vital World Cup qualifying win against Georgia at the Aviva Stadium.

A woeful first-half showing from Ireland was followed by what Seamus Coleman described as a "rollocking" from O'Neill and his coaching staff at half-time, with a marginally improved second-half showing ignited by a fortuitous winning goal from the captain.

Yet O'Neill admitted his side must do better after a win that talk Ireland level on points with Wales, Austria and Serbia in what looks certain to a tight Group D qualifying pool.

"Since I have been in this job, they players have shown a great desire to do well and when it is not going their way, you need to reenergize them," said O'Neill.

"You need something, a little spark in the second half to get themselves going and I am delighted with the three points, but we can play a lot better than that."

O'Neill insisted he was not surprised by the difficulties his side faces against the Georgians, as he suggested they minnows could be a dark horse to pull off some surprise results in a tight qualifying group.

"I expected it to be that close," he added.

"I watched their game against Austria and they gave them problems last month.

"If they had a natural goalscorer in their side, they could have been in front in this game.

"They had miles the better of it in the first half and we came into it in the second half.

"We pressed them better and got some second balls, which we were not getting in the first half.

"Then Seamus Coleman came up with a wonder goal that befits the captain of this side."

O'Neill will now await the medical reports Robbie Brady, who was carried off with concussion in the second half and striker Shane Long, who limped off late on with a leg injury.

His resources for the trip to Moldova on Sunday have been further reduced by a suspension for Jeff Hendrick after he picked up a booking against Georgia.