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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
New hope for Staunton's Republic
By Lyle Jackson

Republic of Ireland manager Steve Staunton
Steve Staunton saw his side draw 1-1 with the Czech Republic
Steve Staunton looked a hugely relieved man after the Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw at Lansdowne Road on Wednesday night.

Yes, they could well have beaten the Czech Republic, but the much-improved display should be enough to muffle the criticism which had been mounting since the disastrous 5-2 defeat in Cyprus.

As a player, Staunton achieved legendary status, holding the record for the number of caps in the green jersey of the Republic of Ireland.

Sadly, his early record as a manager has not been so distinguished.

After just six matches, Staunton has suffered four defeats. That is the same the Republic lost during his predecessor Brian Kerr's 32 matches.

If the Republic had lost to the Czechs, the Football Association of Ireland could well have been pondering whether to stand by their man or make a change.

In their opening qualifier the Republic lost narrowly in Stuttgart as Germany won thanks to a cruel deflection. Hardly a hanging offence.

It was the shambles in Cyprus which triggered the crisis.

Some fans directed their anger on a man revered as a hero just four years ago when Staunton ended his international playing career at the 2002 World Cup.

From hero to zero in just 10 months and critics suggesting Staunton was out of his depth.

Staunton might have anticipated a longer honeymoon period given his outstanding service under Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy.

But the extent of the Nicosia nightmare got the critics sharpening their knives.

On Tuesday, one Irish tabloid declared, categorically, that Staunton would be gone if Ireland lost to the Czech Republic.

In the lead-up to the game, Staunton must have felt anything which could go wrong did go wrong.

He was deprived of 13 players through injury - seven or eight of them likely starters - and Richard Dunne who was suspended.

But the young players like Paul McShane, Stephen Kelly and Jonathan Douglas did enough to suggest it is not all doom and gloom.

The pride and passion was back and Staunton was defiant afterwards.

He says he has not given up on qualifying despite having dropped eight points out of nine.

Fanciful perhaps, but Staunton also says he is building for the future.

On Wednesday's showing he still has a future and something promising to build on.

SEE ALSO
Rep of Ireland 1-1 Czech Republic
11 Oct 06 |  Internationals
Staunton praises Republic display
11 Oct 06 |  Internationals


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