O’Neill and McClean escape bans for Austria comments
Irish international supporters were breathing sighs of relief today as it was announced that winger, James McClean and manager, Martin O’Neill would not face sanctions for their post-match comments following the 1-1 draw back in June.
The match, which was played at home in the Aviva Stadium, saw Ireland grab a crucial equaliser with just five minutes remaining, when Jon Walters slotted home to cancel out Austria’s first-half strike. But the controversial moment of the game came after that, when Shane Duffy thought he has won the game for Ireland and three valuable points, which would have put the Boys in Green well on their way to Russia. The towering centre-half headed the ball into the roof of the net but the Spanish referee disallowed the goal, much to the dismay of Ireland and their manager.
Speaking the media after the game, O’Neill insisted that the goal should have stood. I’ve seen the replay, the second goal should count. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, he’s called a foul on Shane Duffy and I can’t see it.”
O’Neill went on the criticise the official for what he thought was a poor performance. James McClean had similar views on the performance of David Fernández Borbalán, but he went a bit further in his assessment of his performance, accusing the Spaniard of being a ‘12th man’ for Austria.
“Look, I know in this day and age, the slightest wee thing you say about a referee, you get fined and that. But you watched the game, you tell me.
“They had a 12th man today. That’s all I’ll say on that. I’m really disappointed. We should have came away from that game with three points but we didn’t.”
There were fears that McClean would receive a retrospective punishment for his comments about the match officials and questioning their impartiality. With just four games to go in Group D and with Ireland in a good position to qualify for our first World Cup since 2002, it is imperative that McClean is cleared to play, as he has been an integral member of the team so far in this campaign.
And with Seamus Coleman still out with an injury, Ireland needs as many leaders on the pitch as possible. Both McClean and O’Neill were reprimanded for their comments but no fines or bans were issued, which is a major relief for both men and for supporters of the Irish soccer team.
Ireland now look ahead to a crucial double header in September where they will face Georgia away and Serbia at home, in what could be the two defining games of the Group D campaign.,