Monday 24 October 2016

O'Neill: I'll enjoy draw

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill has told his players to enjoy tomorrow's draw for the Euro 2016 finals because his players "deserve" their place at the top table of European football.

Apart from the Bournemouth pair of Harry Arter and Eunan O'Kane, both hoping to be involved for the Cherries at home to Manchester United tomorrow (5.30pm), the rest of the Irish squad will have finished their clubs games by the time the draw for the finals is made in Paris tomorrow (5pm, Irish time).

And O'Neill, who will be in the French capital for the draw, plans to enjoy the occasion. "We have come through with flying colours and we deserve to be there," O'Neill said, the Derry man unfussed about who the favourites for the tournament will be.

"At this stage, we've just qualified and Christmas is upon us, I probably don't really care who is favourites. We are in the finals and I will give it some serious thought in January and let's see what happens.

"It's been a great achievement by the players and absolutely delighted to be there. I'm delighted for them and delighted for the nation who will be travelling there in great numbers and hopefully have a few days to enjoy," added the Derry man.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has been pondering over the teams he'd like to get, and avoid, in tomorrow's draw.

"Playing France in the opening game would be a special experience," the ex-Shamrock Rovers boss said.

"I suppose you would look to avoid Italy from pot two and probably an England game as well, simply because the attention around that could overshadow everything else."

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