Ireland deliver another dismal display…15/11/2018

Manager Martin O’Neill presided over another dismal display from his Ireland selection in tonight’s friendly encounter with Northern Ireland, which ended scoreless in the Aviva Stadium. Veteran midfielder Glenn Whelan captained Ireland on his 85th appearance and was far from the weakest performer during his thirty five minutes on the pitch. Our Northern Ireland visitors were much superior in every position save goalkeeper, where ‘Man of the Match’ Darren Randolph was Ireland’s saviour with three exceptional saves. It is difficult to find some positives from this evening’s efforts, save that injury returnees Robbie Brady and Seamus Coleman completed ninety minutes, which should aid their return to full fitness. Playing on an unfamiliar left hand side, John Egan was the best of the three centre backs, with Shane Duffy not at his best and Darragh Lenihan disappointing. In midfield, Conor Hourihane replaced the aforementioned Whelan and together with Jeff Hendrick was anonymous throughout. Brady showed his rustiness, perhaps not surprising following his lengthy injury absence, but did deliver some excellent free kicks and corners. Wing backs Seamus Coleman and James McClean offered little, with the latter being particularly disappointing. Lone striker Callum Robinson battled gamely but without real support could offer little while Callum O’Dowda shipped some heavy early tackles and was withdrawn at half-time. Save for Randolph, the only other positive on the night was the substitute appearance of Ronan Curtis, who replaced O’Dowda and provided more vim and vigour coupled with decent technical ability than the majority of his team mates. Sean Maguire was introduced from the bench on sixty six minutes but only survived for twelve minutes before a hamstring injury forced his substitution and absence from the Denmark match on Monday evening. Enda Stevens was also a sixty sixth minute left wing back substitute and brought some improvement to that area of the pitch. Michael Obafemi was confined to the substitute bench, perhaps no bad thing on the night, given the general poverty of performance. In his post match interview, Martin O’Neill did hint at the possibility of the young Southampton striker seeing some game time in Aarhus on Monday evening.