Martin O'Neill lauds Republic spirit after draw against Poland

Martin O'Neill shouts out instructions to his Republic of Ireland players in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Poland
Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side have scored three vital late goals during the current campaign

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill praised his side's spirit after Shane Long's late goal earned a vital draw in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.

Long's 91st-minute goal kept the Irish three points behind the Group D leaders after the 1-1 draw.

"We kept going right to the end," said O'Neill after the Aviva Stadium game.

"We certainly deserved it. Our second-half performance was really fantastic. I am absolutely delighted that we are still in the competition."

O'Neill's side have now scored vital late goals in three of the games in the current campaign and the manager said those strikes emphasised his team's resolve.

"It was a late goal in Georgia, a late goal in Germany and another one tonight.

"The one thing you could never say about this team is that they lack spirit."

Republic of Ireland's remaining Euro 2016 Group D qualifiers
Scotland (home)Saturday, 13 June 2015
Gibraltar (away)Friday, 4 September 2015
Georgia (home)Monday, 7 September 2015
Germany (home)Thursday, 8 October 2015
Poland (away)Sunday, 11 October 2015

O'Neill acknowledged that his side had been "tentative" in the first half as they were rocked by Slawomir Peszko's 26th-minute goal following a mistake by Robbie Brady.

"Poland didn't cause us too many problems but we have given away a really silly goal.

"It put us on the back foot for a little while but I thought we rectified that and it was a great effort by the team.

"We had them on the back foot the whole second half and it would have been a shame if we had not got something out of the game."

O'Neill felt that the introduction of Wigan winger James McClean in the 68th minute helped the Republic's second-half efforts and also praised Wes Hoolahan's creative contribution throughout the 90 minutes.

"James gave us that spark at that stage of the game when maybe we thought that it might be beyond us.

"Wes created problems for the Poland. The more time he was on the ball, the better chances we had.

"Overall, it was really great. Shane (Long) comes on and scores the goal. (I am) delighted with the team."

The Republic's next qualifier will be against Scotland in Dublin on 13 June and O'Neill believes his side can avenge their defeat in Glasgow last November.

"We still have to beat Scotland in June time and if we show the same determination and spirit and the same ability, let's not forget that, I think we can do them."

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