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'The Younger Players Have Come Of Age' - O'Neill Talks Bright Future For Irish Football

'The Younger Players Have Come Of Age' - O'Neill Talks Bright Future For Irish Football
By John Balfe
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Martin O'Neill spoke to the media this morning as Ireland's Euro 2016 voyage comes to a close, promising to remain in charge of the Irish team as they head towards another qualifying campaign next season.

He also hailed the performance of both the team and the supporters in France and saying that future looks bright for Irish football.

O'Neill, who said his contract expired "about a minute and a half" after the final whistle yesterday reiterated that he would be happy to stay on in charge of the the Irish team but added that his asssitant Roy Keane will have to come to his own decision on whether he remains in the Irish setup but he expects his deputy to be in place when the qualifying stages for the World Cup begin in September.

It had previously been reported that both O'Neill and Keane had signed new deals with the FAI but that was since clarified as being just verbal agreements with Irish football's governing body.

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O'Neill, who praised Keane as being "great for the team", said that talks between the management team and the FAI were at an advanced stage.

The manager also spoke of  the highs and lows that his team experienced in France.

I think that the performance against Italy was fantastic. Not winning the game against Sweden was actually a disappointment to me because you felt at the start of the tournament that you needed to win a game to give yourself a really decent chance at qualifying and it looked as if we’ve spurned that – and it certainly did after Belgium. Belgium was a disappointment naturally. There were far more highs that lows, I have to say, and combining that there with the fans that we had, the supporters that we took, the humour that they had throughout the tournament [and] the stories coming back.

O'Neill also spoke of the potential he sees in this Irish side, particularly the young players, and how well they acquitted themselves on football's biggest stage.

Ireland's playing style was particularly satisfying to O'Neill, who said that the attacking style they displayed in the game against Italy and in spells against Sweden and France, did not come as a surprise to him.

I thought we were capable of playing. We tried to play, and we did it under pressure.

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