The gamble of accepting the challenge to face FIFA 4th ranked England rather than a lesser opposition seriously backfired for Ireland in Wembley Stadium this Thursday evening.
The match, for a contest it was not, provided a shattering illustration of the task facing manager Stephen Kenny in his quest to build a successful side.
The three nil result does not truly reflect the disparity between the two sides, it quite easily might have been at least double that scoreline. While Ireland were without several important players, the hosts also selected several players not considered first choices.
Ireland provided a couple of bright passages of play in the opening fifteen minutes but without any end product. In fact it was not until the 71st minutes that we had a shot on target and there was but one further effort during the remainder of the match.
There were some very poor contributions, particularly from senior players, which will be of serious concern to Stephen Kenny. The lack of game time at club level for goalkeeper Darren Randolph was a topic of debate prior to the match and his performance personified staleness while the recent poor form of Shane Duffy with loan club Glasgow Celtic continued this evening. While the 14th minute exit of John Egan through a head injury did not help, the back four was a unit in name only. The absence of Seamus Coleman was seriously felt with replacement Cyrus Christie looking out of his depth while Matt Doherty was also extremely quiet at left back. The holding midfield role was filled by Jeff Hendrick who was by some distance Ireland’s best player. Daryl Horgan offered some early bright moments but he too soon faded.
There was some degree of improvement following the introduction of substitutes in the 60th and 71st minutes of the second half but the match was already over at that stage and therefore it is difficult to asses their true value. Substitutes James McClean, Ronan Curtis and Jayson Molumby did offer some additional bite but it was all too little too late.
Team: Darren Randolph; Cyrus Christie, Shane Duffy(C), John Egan, Matt Doherty; Jeff Hendrick, Conor Hourihane; Callum O’Dowda, Alan Browne, Daryl Horgan; Adam Idah
Dara O’Shea for Egan 14′
Robbie Brady for O’Dowda 60′
Kevin Long for Christie 60′
James McClean for Horgan 60′
Ronan Curtis for Idah 71′
Jayson Molumby for Hourihane 71′