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Martin O'Neill says more t...
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Martin O'Neill says more talk of Henry's handball in France than Ireland

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

08:30 24 Jun 2016

Martin O'Neill believes Ireland have gotten over the hurt of Thierry Henry's handball in 2009 but thinks it is still causing controversy in France after seven years.

France and Ireland go head-to-head for the first time in a competitive fixture since Thierry Henry blatantly handled the ball in a qualifier in 2009 ahead of World Cup 2010 that resulted in a William Gallas goal that would end Ireland's dream of competing at the tournament.

O'Neill, however, believes it does not hold as much significance in Ireland anymore and has become somewhat of a joke.

"Naturally it's going to be a talking point," O'Neill told reporters yesterday.

"I think the Irish fans have been in such good humour that it will be a jocular kind of thing.

"I wouldn't have thought we would be using it as an incendiary force to get on with things.

"It's still causing some controversy, maybe more so in France. I think we have decided to forget about it," he said.

"And that's some doing coming from Ireland. I don't think it will concern us when we play the game."

Talk of France as the favourites to win the tournament has cooled following a tepid three games that included a 2-1 win over Romania, a 2-0 win over Albania and a 0-0 draw with Switzerland. They have a squad full of exciting young talent but questions have been asked of Didier Deschamps' style and whether he can elicit the best from the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann.

Ireland, on the other hand, will be buoyed by one of the most historic nights in their sporting history, and with nothing to lose, have the chance to make amends for the injustice of 2009 whether or not it is on their minds heading into the tie.

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