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O’Neill focused on improving squad

first_img But the former Shamrock Rovers boss has impressed IFA officials with his behind-the-scenes work and development of younger players in the squad. O’Neill also has the support of key senior players, as evidenced by the continued presence of Gareth McAuley and Aaron Hughes – both of whom turn 34 before the end of the year – among his group for the trip to Adana. “The contract actually wasn’t a major thing, it was quite straightforward because the discussions we had were that everybody at the association wanted me to continue,” O’Neill told Press Association Sport. “I’ve been working for two years now and I wanted to continue that development of the team and the squad and hopefully make sure we have better results in qualifying next time. “Coming into the job I knew I wasn’t just managing an international team. We’ve restructured the age level groups, we’ve been getting the right people into the jobs and I’ve been assisting them with whatever they need. That will continue. “When I was appointed Northern Ireland manager I was honoured to have been chosen to manage my country and I am extremely happy to have agreed a new two-year deal with the Irish Football Association.” O’Neill’s side finished fifth in their six-team 2014 World Cup qualifying group and suffered a humiliating loss to Luxembourg along the way. They have won just once in 14 matches under O’Neill but the IFA is convinced they have the right man in place. IFA president Jim Shaw has been a vocal supporter of O’Neill during his tenure, and he said: “I am delighted that Michael has agreed a two-year extension to his contract. “I have no doubt that he will be able to build on the work he has already done and will take us forward in the Euro 2016 campaign. “Michael is a true professional who has passion and pride, something which he showed as a player for his country and now as a manager, and I believe he is the right man for the job of Northern Ireland manager.” O’Neill will be without Palermo striker Kyle Lafferty, whose wife is due to give birth around the date of the Turkey clash, as well as injured duo Craig Cathcart and Corry Evans, but otherwise has a full-strength panel available to him. O’Neill is desperate to persuade McAuley and Hughes to commit to one final campaign before retirement and their presence for the trip is encouraging, while captain Steven Davis and Manchester United’s Jonny Evans are also in the squad. Jonny Steele, the uncapped Larne-born midfielder who has been impressing for New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer, has been left out to focus on his club’s play-off chase. Northern Ireland squad to face Turkey on November 15: Carroll (Olympiacos), Mannus (St Johnstone); McAuley (West Brom), J Evans (Man Utd), Hodson (MK Dons), D Lafferty (Burnley), McArdle (Bradford), Hughes (Fulham), Baird (Reading); Davis (Southampton), Norwood (Huddersfield), Ferguson (Birmingham), Brunt (West Brom), Clingan (Kilmarnock), O’Connor (Rotherham); McKay (Inverness), Paterson (Huddersfield), Ward (Derby), McGinn (Aberdeen), Grigg (Brentford). Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill will begin his Euro 2016 planning in earnest next week after putting pen to paper on a new two-year contract. Press Association The friendly against Turkey on November 15 was the final fixture on his original deal with the Irish Football Association and when he announced a strong 20-man squad for the match at Windsor Avenue on Tuesday, he was able to do so having signed on to lead the Euro 2016 campaign. O’Neill took over from Nigel Worthington at the start of 2012 and has won just one of his 14 games in charge of the national side, August’s impressive 1-0 success over Russia. last_img read more

Falcons swoop into last eight

first_img In the end, Rob Vickers, Alex Tait and Jean Socino all picked up two tries apiece for the Falcons, with an Andy Davies score, a penalty try and six conversions from Tom Catterick completing the scoring for the visitors as Newcastle earned themselves one of the best runners-up spots. Newport finished top of Pool Three and secured a home quarter-final after beating Top 14 side Stade Francais 30-19 at Rodney Parade. James Thomas’ try plus 17 points from the boot of Tom Prydie (five penalties and a conversion) gave the Dragons a 22-7 half-time lead, and the hosts added a second try from Thomas Rhys Thomas and a late penalty form Rhys Jones in the second half. Stade Francais actually outscored their hosts three tries to two, Krisnan Inu, Zurabi Zhvania and Remi Bonfils the men on the scoresheet, but Prydie’s efforts in the first half – when he slotted over six out of seven shots – proved decisive. In Pool One, f lanker Ofisa Treviranus scored a hat-trick of tries as London Irish downed Rovigo 34-6 to claim top spot ahead of Cardiff Blues. Both Irish and Cardiff saw their berths in the last eight secured courtesy of Edinburgh’s win over Bordeaux on Friday night but were still battling for first place heading into Saturday’s final round of fixtures. Irish and Cardiff each picked up comfortable wins, but it was the Exiles who came out on top after comfortably seeing off group whipping boys Rovigo. Somoa international Treviranus led the way with a try treble, while wingers James Short and Topsy Ojo also crossed as Irish – who thrashed Rovigo 70-14 in round one – picked up a bonus-point win at the Stadio Mario Battaglini. After suffering back-to-back defeats to Stade Francais and Newport Gwent Dragons in their previous two Pool Three matches, Newcastle needed a bonus-point victory at the Cluj Arena to guarantee themselves qualification. And the Aviva Premiership side had the extra point sewn up by half-time as they ran in four of their eight tries in the first period. Press Association Newcastle Falcons claimed their place in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup after thrashing Bucharest Wolves 52-10 in Romania. The remainder of Irish’s nine points came from Shane Geraghty (three conversions and a penalty) with Rovigo responding with two penalties from full-back Stefan Basson. The bonus point proved crucial in the end as Irish only narrowly edged out Cardiff for first place, with both clubs finishing level on 24 points after t he Welsh outfit recorded a 28-3 bonus-point win over Grenoble in testing conditions in France. After Lloyd Williams’ try gave them a 7-3 half-time lead, Cardiff eased clear in the second half though a brace of penalty tries before Josh Navidi crossed for their fourth try two minutes from the end. All four tries were converted with Gareth Anscombe successfully notching three efforts before replacement Gareth Davies slotted over from Navidi’s score as Cardiff ensured they avoided a showdown with top seeds Gloucester in the knock-out stages. Grenoble’s solitary score came from James Hart’s first-half penalty. Already-qualified Exeter Chiefs will head into the quarter-finals as second seeds – and a clash with Newcastle – after rounding off their group campaign with a 45-3 drubbing of Bayonne. Exeter only led 11-0 at the break through England international Jack Nowell’s unconverted try and a brace of penalties, but the Chiefs ran amok in the second half with five more tries as they made it eight home wins in a row in the Challenge Cup. Matt Jess, David Ewers, Carl Rimmer, Kai Horstmann and Dean Mumm all crossed the line after the interval, with the rest of Exeter’s points coming from three Gareth Steenson conversions and a trio of Henry Slade penalties. Martin Bustos Moyano notched Bayonne’s points from a 46th-minute penalty. Connacht, meanwhile, sealed the eighth and last quarter-final berth after overcoming a nine-point half-time deficit to beat La Rochelle 30-20 and earn second spot behind Exeter in Pool Two. Connacht looked in serious trouble as they trailed 20-11 at the break at Stade Marcel Deflandre but they rallied to set up a showdown with Gloucester in the next round. Tries from Kieran Marmion, Eoin McKeon, Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy earned the Irish side their bonus point, with Jack Carty slotting over two conversions and two penalties. Albain Meron’s score, plus a penalty try and 10 points from Jean-Pascal Barraque had put La Rochelle in charge. last_img read more

Andre Ayew scores late winner as Swansea beat Luton 1-0

first_imgBlack Stars captain, Andre Ayew is enjoying a stellar campaign in front of goal this season for Swansea in the Championship.The forward scored the Welsh club’s all-important winner on Saturday in the 82nd minute against Luton Town.Andre has now scored five goals in his last six games.He has been in fine goalscoring form for Swansea this season having now scored ten goals in all competitions this season, including eight in the league.Swansea looked set to drop two points at Luton before Jay Fulton’s deflected cross looped over everyone and found Andre unmarked to chest home the winner 8 minutes from time.The goal sparked wild celebrations from Swansea’s travelling fans, players and from Andre himself.The win, Swansea’s second in a row after a six-game winless run, takes them up to sixth, the final Playoff spot in the Championship.Swansea manager, Steve Cooper said after the game that the goal was well deserved given how hard his team had worked for it.“It came from a move that we’ve been working on. We pressed and pressed and the breakthrough was a reward for our effort.”The matchwinner said after the game that he was pleased with the goal and happy to have aided in the side’s victory.“What a game, perfect results to keep our winning run going and happy again to be on the score sheet.”last_img read more