O’Neill: France extra rest days the difference

Republic of Ireland coach Martin O’Neill blasted Euro 2016 organisers after watching his side exit the tournament, saying that France’s three extra rest days were “incredible”.

Ireland now head home following a 2-1 defeat to France in their last-16 tie, after two goals from Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Robbie Brady’s third-minute penalty.

The Republic played just four days after their win over Italy, while the hosts had enjoyed an extra three days of rest.

“A three-day differential is genuinely too much and it took its toll on us in the second half,” O’Neill said. “It will sound like an excuse and it’s not meant to be. But it is incredible. It really is incredible.”

“France, it looked as if it was geared for them to win their group, which they did. Well done to them but three days is far too much.

“We knew at the start of the tournament when we were looking at it that after a really tough group, if we took our place in the last 16, the chances were there was going to be a big differential between us and some of the sides that we might play in the competition.”

Asked about the game, O’Neill said he was frustrated that the Irish defence couldn’t hold on for just a few minutes longer.

“We got the goal and we were pretty comfortable in the first half,” said O’Neill. “We put them under pressure. We rattled them. We got the goal and it actually settled us down. I thought that we were continuing to do very well in the game.”

“It’s all ifs, buts and maybes, but if we had gone another six, seven, eight minutes without conceding, there would have been a lot of pressure on France and I think we could have used that to our advantage.”