John O'Shea: Ireland's poor US tour must not hinder Euros focus

John O'Shea: Ireland's poor US tour must not hinder Euros focus

JOHN O’Shea has encouraged Ireland to look ahead to their first 2016 Euro qualifying game in under 11 weeks, after a disappointing US tour ended the team’s season.

Ireland suffered a 5-1 defeat against Portugal in New Jersey earlier this month, in a game where Cristiano Ronaldo played an important role after making a successful return from injury.

O’Shea may not have made the line-up during the tour, but he insists that it was a valuable trip for both the players and the management.

"When you're playing teams who are preparing for a World Cup, it's a different kettle of fish. It was a poor way to end the tour, but the manager saw plenty of players in action and he knows what we need to collectively work on going forward,” O’Shea said.

"The lads will have been disappointed with the result, but they're not going to dwell on it too much because it was a friendly game.

"We'll move on and learn from it. That's the big thing – learning. Generally, you learn a lot more about yourself when you lose matches and that would have been the case for the manager."

The team’s 1-1 draw with Costa Rica in Philadelphia showcased Ireland’s weakness in closing out games, but the Sunderland man considers what might have been after their opponents performed well during the World Cup.

"There's always a case of what could have been in those sort of scenarios," O'Shea admits.

"I think you'd have to admire what the South American teams are doing, though. They're really shining in this World Cup.

"History has generally dictated that when the World Cup is held in South America, the teams from that part of the world come to the fore. They're well used to the conditions and that's definitely a huge advantage."

With Ireland heading into the Euro qualifiers on the back of six games without a win O'Shea believes that the team have a huge challenge in front of them, despite the initial encouragement that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s arrival brought.

"We needed a lift and you could see the boost it gave everyone,” he added.

"We've only had friendlies since they came in, but now fairly soon, we'll be into the nitty gritty of the qualifiers and that's when the real test starts.

"We're going to be up against teams that we're more than capable of beating, but we have to be wary as well. We won't be taking our eye off the ball.

"We know all too well how strong Germany are and we've seen that again in the World Cup.”

Whilst the focus for Ireland is centred on the upcoming Euro qualifiers, O’Shea concedes that this does not take his mind away from all of the World Cup action in Brazil.

"As a player, you're very jealous watching it and, when I imagine the Irish fans being in Brazil, it would have been really incredible," O’Shea said.

Ireland’s Euro qualifying campaign begins away against Georgia on September 7.