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Martin O'Neill at a loss to explain Ireland defeat

Updated: Monday, 26 May 2014 14:30 | Comments

Defeat in Dublin was quite the  headscratcher for Ireland boss Martin O'Neill
Defeat in Dublin was quite the headscratcher for Ireland boss Martin O'Neill

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Martin O'Neill was at a loss to explain how his Republic of Ireland side slipped to a second successive friendly defeat as Turkey left Dublin victorious.

Goals from Ahmet Ilhan Ozek and substitute Tarik Camdal either side of half-time proved sufficient to hand the visitors a 2-1 win at Aviva Stadium, with Jon Walters' 78th-minute strike prompting a late, but ultimately unsuccessful, fightback.

However, O'Neill and his players were left to rue missed chances, good goalkeeping and two debatable penalty decisions as the Turks did what Serbia managed to do on Irish soil in March.

The Derry man said: "I actually thought that we created a lot of chances in the game and I genuinely don't know how we lost the match.

"A combination of things - probably poor finishing, some great saves by the goalkeeper too - but we should have had the game out of sight by half-time.

"I thought we played really well. I was just saying in the dressing room, there are big moments in matches where you have to really defend stoutly.

"You might go 10 or 15 minutes in the match and you are coasting through and you haven't been tested. Then when the big moments come, you have to be stronger.

"Eventually we conceded two goals tonight when I think that there should have been less danger.

"That said, genuinely going forward, I thought we were excellent and somebody is going to earn themselves a fortune by being able to put the ball in the net, an absolute fortune."

Things might have been very different had French referee Ruddy Buquet viewed defender Omer Toprak's fifth-minute challenge on Shane Long differently.

Ireland were convinced they should have been awarded a penalty and Toprak a red card, but crucially Buquet was not.

O'Neill said: "I have seen it back on the big screen, but it's pretty blatant, and I think the referee knows that.

"However, five minutes into the game, it's a friendly match, he didn't apply the rules at the end of it all. It's a definite penalty and as a consequence if it is a penalty, then it's an automatic sending off.

"That said, deep down it's game that we wanted to contest and if that had been the case, I suppose you take it, but it was a decision that obviously eventually played an important part in the game.

"But I am not overly concerned about it."

Despite the result, O'Neill was able to take positives with the contribution of playmaker Wes Hoolahan a particular high point for the manager.

He said: "I thought little Hoolahan played brilliantly for us. He tried to create things for us during the course of the game.

"Sometimes some big boots come in and shove him off the ball a little bit, but overall he showed a great determination and great ability to try to manoeuvre it.

"He was excellent for us."

The game was watched by a crowd of just 25,191, less than a third of the attendance just a few miles away for One Direction's concert at Croke Park, although O'Neill was happy enough with the turn out.

He said: "I was delighted with the crowd in the sense that it's hard-earned money at the end of a season.

"There were a couple of other attractions on in Dublin tonight - even some of my family were thinking about leaving here and going to One Direction, and that includes my wife!"

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