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Martin O'Neill bristles at questions surrounding links to Stoke City

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Martin O'Neill was key to draw a line under his protracted contract saga when he spoke to the press for the first time since reaffirming his commitment to the Irish cause.

The Republic of Ireland manager finally put pen to paper on the eve of the draw for the UEFA Nations League.

In a tetchy interview with Sky Sports, O'Neill batted away questions on the approach from Stoke City and refused to be drawn on what kind of talks took place.

When asked about his decision to stay, the Derry man said: "I'm obviously pleased to do so I had conversations with the FAI board they wanted me to continue in the job and let's see how we can progress.

"We've a group of older players who've served the country brilliantly and we have a group of younger players trying to make their way at club level and one or two of them have a bit of experience now.

"I think all of those things taking into consideration I think the younger players should have that drive and determination now to try and do something."

When pushed on his links to the Stoke City job and asked how close he was to leaving his post, a visibly agitated O'Neill responded curtly:

"You've just asked me the same question again, so we're finished, I'm staying, I'm with the Republic of Ireland and delighted to be so.

The Republic of Ireland will face some familiar foes in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

The Boys in Green have been placed in the same group as Denmark and Wales.

A 1-0 win in Cardiff in October saw Ireland pip the Welsh to a World Cup play off. That though ended with a horrific 5-1 defeat to Denmark at the Aviva Stadium.

Manager Martin O'Neill says they will be motivated by revenge when they face the Danes:

“It’s still fresh in the memory so we want to try and avenge it if it’s at all possible.

“Well Déjà vu for us, we’ve had Wales who we beat to qualify for the play-offs and then Denmark who beat us convincingly in the second game of the play-offs so matches that we all know each other pretty well.

Northern Ireland have been drawn with Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. England will have games against Spain and Croatia

Managerless Scotland are in League C, they've got Israel and Albania in their section.

The stand-out group sees Germany, France and the Netherlands drawn together.

The home and away matches will take place in the autumn - with the competition finals in June 2019.


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