Poland 1-1 Republic of Ireland: Draw shows morale remains high says O'Neill

Kevin Long (left) and Callum Robinson (centre) celebrate Aiden O'Brien's goal in Wroclaw
Debutant Aiden O'Brien (left) put the Republic ahead before Poland's late equaliser

Martin O'Neill said his Republic of Ireland team's 1-1 friendly draw in Poland after a week of turmoil showed a squad with "high morale".

Thursday's 4-1 Nations League hammering by Wales was followed by more details on the row involving assistant boss Roy Keane and Harry Arter.

Bournemouth player Arter pulled out of the games in Cardiff and Poland.

"In terms of morale, it is still very, very high," O'Neill told Irish broadcaster RTE after Tuesday's game.

"These players want to play, and I think tonight they showed it.

"They wanted to play on Thursday as well but we took a beating and they made some daft mistakes during the course of the game."

Keane and Arter had training ground bust-up

The build-up to Tuesday's encounter had been dominated by the fall-out from the emergence of an audio recording of Republic left-back Stephen Ward which gave details about the training ground bust-up between Keane and squad members Arter and Jonathan Walters back in May.

O'Neill strongly defended Keane at a news conference on Monday as the controversy involving the assistant boss put further pressure on the management following the dismal display in Cardiff.

However, despite further withdrawals from the already-depleted squad that played in Wales, the Republic produced an encouraging display in Wroclaw as Poland needed an 87th-minute equaliser from Leeds striker Mateusz Klich to cancel out debutant Aiden O'Brien's goal.

O'Neill heaped praise on London-born O'Brien's overall display, which was highlighted by his 54th-minute headed goal after superb work by Bristol City's Callum O'Dowda.

Callum O'Dowda goes on a run in Wroclaw
Bristol City midfielder Callum O'Dowda produced an impressive display for the Irish

"I thought there was some superb performances out there, notably young O'Dowda, but I have to say, on his debut, O'Brien did brilliantly for us.

"I have seen a lot of him over the last couple of year and the one thing you will get from him is that old word, the shift.

"And today he tried to get hold of it, hold play up, giving us a little breather at times.

"He is brave and did exceptionally well today. I'm really pleased with him and I think he is pretty pleased as well."

Captain Coleman a fitness concern says O'Neill

O'Neill will hope that Tuesday's performance will put the Republic in better fettle for the next month's Nations League home double-header against Denmark and Wales.

However, the manager admitted that captain Seamus Coleman could be a fitness worry for the games on 13 and 16 October.

"Seamus went for a scan, he has a little stress fracture, which is a concern.

"Seamus could easily have got a flight home, but he stayed with the team.

"He is a great captain, a really great captain. He is inspirational and obviously we hope he is back in time for the games coming up."

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