Ireland garnered an excellent European Championship qualifying point with a battling display against Denmark in Copenhagen this Friday evening. Manager Mick McCarthy named the same starting eleven that defeated Georgia in our last UEFA qualifier for the contest in the Parken Stadium.
While still very early days, McCarthy’s style offers a more positive approach which, hopefully, will develop further in the future. This evening’s opponents Denmark are currently ranked tenth in the world and did dominate possession and created a number of chances but their finishing was wayward. Ireland defended doggedly with ‘man of the match’ Shane Duffy imperious in defence.
Ireland’s defences were finally breached after seventy six minutes by Danish substitute Hojbjerg of Southampton who scored with a well timed header. Our side did not crumble and manager McCarthy made some positive attacking changes as we sought the equaliser. His reward duly arrived on eighty five minutes when substitute Alan Judge first earned and then delivered an exquisite free kick which was powerfully headed home by the excellent Duffy.
Darren Randolph was again excellent between the posts making one very crucial save and blameless for the conceded goal. Alongside the colossus Duffy in defence, Seamus Coleman and Richard Keogh did little wrong while Enda Stevens did have a more difficult evening with the Danes clearly focussing much of their attacking threat down his channel. The central midfield trio of Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane performed resolutely but did struggle somewhat with some aspects of the Danish attacking threat. The front trio of Robbie Brady, David McGoldrick and James McClean also made their contribution as we sought to push further up the pitch to put the opposition under pressure.
Substitute Alan Judge made a significant contribution by earning and delivering the free kick for the equaliser but sadly for the luckless Dubliner he broke his wrist and is out of contention for Monday’s encounter with Gibraltar. The attacking substitute duo of Scott Hogan and Callum Robinson, while in the fray for a very limited period, did pressurise the Danish defence which enabled us to see out the match and indeed look the more threatening side in the final minutes.
While there remains much to address and improve upon, tonight’s draw can only further boost the confidence of players, management and fans as we now head into Monday evening’s meeting with Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium.
D Randolph; S Coleman(C), S Duffy, R Keogh, E Stevens; J Hendrick, G Whelan, C Hourihane; R Brady, D McGoldrick, J McClean
A Judge for Brady 66′
S Hogan for Hourihane 82′
C Robinson for McGoldrick 88′
Kevin Long was the player from the 24 man travelling squad who did not make the bench for this evening’s contest.
Earlier this afternoon in Tbilisi, hosts Georgia defeated visitors Gibraltar by three goals to nil.
P W D L F A G/D Pts
Republic of Ireland 3 2 1 0 3 1 2 7
Switzerland 2 1 1 0 5 3 2 4
Georgia 3 1 0 2 3 3 – 3
Denmark 2 0 2 0 4 4 – 2
Gibraltar 2 0 0 2 0 4 -4 0