Seamus Coleman urges Republic of Ireland teammates to end year on a high

Republic of Ireland captain, Seamus Coleman has a laugh with former Derry City striker, Ronan Curtis at training.
Republic of Ireland captain, Seamus Coleman has a laugh with former Derry City striker, Ronan Curtis at training.

Seamus Coleman has urged his Republic of Ireland team-mates to end a difficult year on a high with victory over Northern Ireland and by gaining revenge on Denmark for their World Cup heartache.

Twelve months ago, Everton full-back Coleman was still recovering from the horrific double leg break he suffered against Wales in March last year when the Danes arrived at the Aviva Stadium and trounced Ireland 5-1 to snatch a trip to Russia.

That defeat signalled the start of a tough year for the Republic, and their captain is determined to end it with friendly victory over Northern Ireland in Dublin on Thursday evening before taking their revenge on the Danes in the Nations League in Aarhus on Monday.

Coleman said: "It was a tough night, that one, at the end of last year and we need to go there and put it right. But when our backs are on the ropes sometimes, that's when we're at our best.

"Hopefully we can get a good result against the North and bring that into the game against Denmark and finish this year on a positive going into what is going to be a big qualifying campaign."

Positives have been few and far between for Ireland in 2018 as their run without a competitive victory has stretched to five games to leave some questioning Martin O'Neill as manager five years into his reign.

Former Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews did just that in his role as a TV pundit last month, prompting a stern response from the usually mild-mannered Coleman.

He said: "I'm captain of the team and my job is to look after my corner and everyone else's job is to look after their own, but that night in particular, I just thought Keith was a little bit harsh. Some people might say he was being fair, but I just thought he was a bit harsh."

Coleman has made only 24 appearances for club and country since his misfortune against Wales with a stress fracture of the foot hampering him this season, although he insists he is now fully fit and raring to go.

He said: "I was going well before I broke my leg and then it happened and there's nothing you can do. But the last couple of games, I'm feeling back to myself and any time I don't play well, I'll not be using my injury as an excuse."