Martin O’Neill hoping to join namesake Michael at Euro party

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill is determined to join namesake Michael at the Euro 2016 finals as he plots a way past Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The 63-year-old looked on as Northern Ireland counterpart Michael O’Neill guided his team to next summer’s showcase in France last month, in the process joining England’s Roy Hodgson and Chris Coleman of Wales.

As a native of Derry, the Republic boss was delighted to see the country of his birth reach a first major finals since 1986, but his pleasure will not be complete until he ensures his own presence at the tournament.

He said: “Since I’m from Northern Ireland, I’m delighted with them qualifying. Michael has deserved it, he has done very, very well indeed and it’s been a great effort by them.

“Obviously I think it would be fantastic if both countries could qualify for the competition. I was involved with Northern Ireland a way back in 1982 in the World Cup, and it was just really, really fantastic.

“It was a fantastic time and if you go there and perform well, it’s a real added bonus.

“We have still to get there. At least Michael is there and tonight, I’m quite sure he’s having a cigarette somewhere, smoking, enjoying himself, the same with Roy Hodgson and the same with Chris Coleman.

“It’s great. I feel envious that they are in those positions. I’d like to join them on Monday night if it’s at all possible – and so will my counterpart here in Bosnia, he will feel exactly the same. It would be nice.

“I hope Michael takes that cigarette out of his mouth now and stops smoking.”

If the two O’Neills are to share a stage in France, the older man will have to mastermind victory over Bosnia in a shoot-out which looks increasingly tricky.

Ireland are without suspended duo John O’Shea and Jonathan Walters and injury victims Shay Given, Shane Long and new addition to the casualty list, David Meyler, who suffered a knee injury in training on Wednesday, for the first leg in Zenica.