Martin O'Neill a man of few words after Republic of Ireland seal Euro 2016 place

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Martin O'Neill was for once lost for words as he contemplated joining England, Northern Ireland and Wales at the Euro 2016 finals.

The 63-year-old manager was thrilled to have steered the Republic of Ireland to next summer's tournament in France by seeing off Bosnia-Herzegovina after a tight play-off showdown in which they clinched a 3-1 aggregate victory after a 2-0 win at the Aviva Stadium on Monday evening.

O'Neill said: "I'm sure there are better words than 'special' because I have used it a few times now, but it's very, very special. I'm sorry, I'm not William Wordsworth or William Shakespeare, so I can't find another word at the moment.

"It's pretty special and I'm delighted. Michael's performance with Northern Ireland does him great, great credit; Chris Coleman again for Wales, Roy Hodgson qualifying, and just to join them is great, it really is great, it's just nice, a nice moment."

Stoke striker Jonathan Walters was the hero on his return from suspension as he converted a controversial 24th-minute penalty and then volleyed home 20 minutes from time to wrap up a victory which means he and his team-mates will take part in a second successive European finals tournament.

For O'Neill, who is understood to have been offered a two-year extension to a contract which will now take in the finals, it proved an emotional night in Dublin.

However, he was once again at pains to insists that he was not the story after his players fought back from the point of elimination from the race for qualification from Group D back in June following a 1-1 home draw with Scotland.

He said: "I'm absolutely delighted, I'm thrilled, thrilled for myself naturally, rather selfishly if that's the case. But I'm thrilled for the players because they have put heart and soul into the games.

"Even after the Scotland game here - which if you analyse it, we probably should have won - that put us on the back foot with four games left. But it was still in our hands - I sat in this very room and said it was still in our hands.

"It probably meant that we'd have to go and win the two games in quick succession, Gibraltar and Georgia, and then probably have to win one of the last two games.

"It was a tall order, but it was never beyond them and of course, Shane Long's goal against Germany gave us the opportunity here to play against Bosnia. No, we never give up."


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