Defiant boss backs spirited Ireland to bounce back

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Jeff Hendrick reacts during the 5-1 defeat to Denmark

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill admitted his side were very much second best to Denmark, but says they will bounce back from the play-off defeat.

Ireland’s World Cup dreams were dashed as a Christian Eriksen-inspired Denmark put Ireland to the sword, with a fortuitous opening goal and Nicklas Bendtner’s last-minute penalty sandwiched between the Tottenham Hotspur star’s hat-trick to condemn the home side to a thrashing.

O’Neill admitted afterwards that he had no complaints over the result as the home side paid the price for costly defensive errors, particularly in the first half.

“We were well beaten in the end, no question about that. We got off to a great start,” he told RTÉ Sport.

“The second goal might have made a big, big difference. However we conceded two really sloppy goals within the period of a couple of minutes.

“The [Denmark] goals were so, so sloppy. Harry Arter get’s beaten fine, we should still be able to clear the ball. We haven’t done that. Then the next goal was just a comedy of mistakes.

“It was a long way back after that.”

The manager sacrificed Arter and David Meyler after the break for Wes Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady, but it made little difference as Ireland sunk to a sobering defeat. It was a gamble worth taking in the circumstances O’Neill said.

“You’re just hoping that Wes might be able to create something for us, the same with McGeady.

“We had to go for it. There is no point in dying wondering.”

It was the sixth defeat under O’Neill’s watch, the fourth in qualifying over the past two campaigns and the former Celtic manager was keen to stress that he fully expects the team to recover and bounce back.

“No it’s not very hard to come back from this. We’re capable of coming back from it. We can come back again.

“This is tough. This is really tough. We find it tough. We are usually playing against sides with superior quality. We have a great old spirit.

“We were well beaten tonight. We could have been 2-0 in front. It might have been a different story. Goals can change games.

“We can fight back.”

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