Saturday 23 March 2019

Ireland boss accuses RTE reporter of a 'real verbal attack' in frosty interview

Martin O'Neill. Photo: UEFA via Sportsfile
Martin O'Neill. Photo: UEFA via Sportsfile

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill accused RTE's Tony O'Donoghue of a "real verbal attack" in a tense interview after the draw for the Uefa Nations League in Lausanne, Switzerland.

O'Neill yesterday faced the media after the draw for the first time since signing a new two-year deal with the FAI on Tuesday.


Since the World Cup play-off defeat to the Danes in November, Derry native O'Neill (65) had been heavily linked to the vacancy at Everton before Sam Allardyce was appointed.

He also held talks with Stoke after Mark Hughes was sacked, despite verbally agreeing to stay on as Ireland boss last October.

FAI chief executive John Delaney last week described how O'Neill had reflected on his position since the play-off loss.

O'Donoghue's attempts to quiz O'Neill on that period of reflection, and the stinging criticism directed at him after the failure to qualify for the World Cup, led to a frosty exchange between the pair.

Referring to the interview O'Donoghue did with him after the 5-1 defeat to Denmark, O'Neill said: "Just before we did our interview you said to me 'hard luck', just before we went on air. What did you mean by that?"

O'Donoghue replied: "Well, it's very disappointing to go out in a play-off."

O'Neill then asked: "You did say 'hard luck'. You weren't being disingenuous about it, were you?"

He then accused the beleaguered RTE man of not being positive in the wake of the Danish defeat, claiming international reaction to Ireland's loss was positive.

"We were actually trying to get a couple of goals in the second half," O'Neill said.

"There was no point in sitting back and losing 2-1 in the game but the perception elsewhere is actually very, very positive, unlike yourself."

He then accused O'Donoghue of a "verbal attack" in the interview after the match.


"After the game when you did say 'hard luck' to me and it was just a real verbal attack," he said - which was denied by the interviewer.

The manager later ended the interview abruptly, saying that O'Donoghue had had "loads of time, you've had more time than the lads here and I thank you for your time, much appreciated", before walking off.

It was not the first time the pair have clashed on air.

After the play-off defeat to Denmark, O'Neill walked out of an interview with O'Donoghue in mid-question.

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