Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill admitted his side couldn’t get to grips with Austria in the opening 45 minutes of the 1-1 draw at the Aviva Stadium, but was also critical of the match referee.

A goal from Jon Walters five minutes from the end rescued a point in the World Cup qualifier, a result that leaves Ireland sitting on 12 points in Group D, four ahead of Austria.

In a disappointing first-half from an Irish perspective, Martin Hinteregger’s strike gave the visitors a slender interval lead, with O’Neill’s side struggling to create any meaningful opportunities.

The second half was a different story as Ireland increased the tempo and got their just rewards through Walters’ equaliser, though it could have been even better minutes later.

Shane Duffy looked like claiming what might have been the match winner, but Spanish referee David Fernandez Borbalan deemed that the central defender led with the arm as he contested the aerial rebound and the goal was ruled out.

O’Neill was adamant the goal should have stood.

"It is a goal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I personally think it typified the referee’s performance today."

"I’ve seen it back again. It should count, the referee should have given the goal," he told RTÉ Sport.

"It is a goal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

"I personally think it typified the referee’s performance today. He let a lot of things go and if that’s the case, then you think, ‘let this go’. If he’s called a foul on Shane Duffy, I can’t see it.

"The lineman thinks he has given a goal and he’s almost up at the halfway line before he is called back.

"Sometimes you contribute to your own downfall and you can’t blame the referee for everything, but he was letting... James McClean in one instance was fouled three times as he was trying to break free.

"As he’s passed the ball, it’s mis-passed, and the referee has allowed play on."

The former Celtic boss was honest enough to admit that his team simply weren’t at the races in the first half.

"We were very, very sloppy first-half and never really got a grip of the game at all," adding that he urged his charges to put "drive and determination into the game" at the interval.

"I’m disappointed [with the result], but we’re still in the competition."

"In the second half we came roaring into the game. We dominated, even though they had one good chance, but you always take that gamble by putting men forward."

The result still leaves Ireland in a commanding position in the group, something he was keen to stress in the aftermath.

"I’m disappointed [with the result], but we’re still in the competition."